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Checking Your Credit Report and Score
Posted by CreditLearningCenter.com
If you're checking your credit report or credit score for the first time, it might be helpful for you to check out the sections Credit Basics and FAQs", Your Credit Report", or Your Credit Score". For starters, here are some basic questions and answers:

Question: Who looks at my credit and why is it so important?

Lenders review your credit report and credit score before making their decision regarding your credit application for everything from a car to a home, to credit cards, department store cards, and other purchases.

Your credit report and credit score is normally a major factor in determining whether your loan application is approved, and the interest rate you will be charged.

Question: How much difference do a few percentage points really make? How much money could my credit save me?

The answer to this question varies by individual, but over the lifetime of a consumer, one could potentially save tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars!

As an example, on a 30-year home loan of $225,000, a good credit rating could help you qualify for an interest rate of, let's say, 6.465% and a monthly payment of $1,417 with total interest paid of $285,000. A lower credit rating could result in an interest rate of 8.452% and a monthly payment of $1,722 with total interest paid of $395.067. In this example, good credit could help you save more than $110,000 over the life of the loan. Lower interest rates on car loans can also add up to incredible savings, as can lower rates on credit cards, and other forms of credit. The bottom line: A good credit history and credit score can help you save a lot of money!

Question: How do I check my credit report and credit score?

There are three main credit reporting agencies (CRAs), or credit bureaus, that maintain files on your credit activity. They are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Since lenders may use any one or more of these three bureaus, you need to make sure that your credit information on all three bureaus is correct. Under the FACTA law, you are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the three bureaus once per year at www.annualcreditreport.com However, reports do not come with a credit score, and they are delivered as separate reports. For convenience, you can compare your credit reports on all three bureaus by ordering a 3 in 1 Credit Report and Credit Score.

Question: Why aren't my three credit reports all the same?

Creditors will use different bureaus to file reports regarding your personal information, account history and balances, payment history, and much more. Since one creditor may file with TransUnion and another with Experian or Equifax - you need to review all three of them to get your total picture. It's important to note, too, that lenders will often use only one of the three bureaus in reviewing your application - so, again, you need to make sure all three are correct because you don't know which bureaus lenders will use!

Question: Is there a way I can monitor all three credit bureaus?

You can monitor key changes on all three of your credit reports through a monthly Credit Monitoring Service that sends you email alerts to notify you of changes on any one of your credit reports.

Question: How do I read these reports?

When you receive any one of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus, you will note that your information is separated into four basic sections.

You should review ALL the information in your credit reports to make sure everything is accurate, because any discrepancy could affect your credit score, or be an indication that you have become a victim of identity theft.

There are usually four types of information:

Question: What do I need to know about credit repair companies?

Many credit repair companies may advertise for your business saying, Credit problem, no problem", or We'll get rid of your bad credit, guaranteed," or Remove bankruptcies, liens, judgments, and collection items from your credit". All these may be tempting offers for individuals who are having credit problems, but the fact is, the majority of credit repair companies charge high fees for promising to do something that you can do for yourself. What's worse, many of them vanish with your money without doing a thing. For more information about credit repair companies, go to the following website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/repair.htm

Question: What can I do if I find inaccuracies in the reports?

It is in everyone's interest that your credit reports accurately reflect your credit history and the three credit bureaus want your credit information to be as accurate as possible. If you have reviewed your credit reports believe that specific information or items may be inaccurate, you can dispute it online for the fastest resolution. The credit bureau(s) you contact is then responsible for researching and changing or removing incorrect data. This process may take as long as 45 days. At your request, a corrected credit report will be sent to creditors that you specify who have received your report within the past six months, or employers who have received it within the last two years. The three credit bureaus are listed below, along with the appropriate contact information:

Equifax
P.O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
http://www.equifax.com
(800) 685-1111

Trans Union
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
http://www.transunion.com
(800) 916-8800 or (800) 888-4213

Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
http://www.experian.com
(888) 397-3742

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