When Should I Check My Credit Report

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by RateGenius

Check your credit report at least once a year for errors that could impact your credit.

Your credit report is the basis of your credit score, and the cost of a mistake on your credit report can be significant. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit report regularly and keep an eye out for any mistakes that could be affecting your credit score.

Let’s explore how often you should check your credit report, why this financial task is so important, and how to swiftly correct any errors.

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How Often Should You Check Your Credit Report?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you should check your credit report at least once a year.

But there are times when you might need to check in more often. If you are taking out a big loan or applying for a new job, it’s a smart move to check your credit report for errors. Or if you are concerned that your personal information has been compromised in a data breach, that’s also a good time to check your credit report.

Another reason to check your credit report more frequently is if you are working to improve your credit score. Taking a look at your credit report on a regular basis can help you spot any errors on your report efficiently.

With this regular check-in, you can spot any potential errors on your credit report that could drag your credit score down. A quick check-in every once in a while will help you avoid the negative impacts of incorrect information on your report.

📌 Key Takeaways: 

  •  You can get a credit report for free and should do so annually, at least. 
  •  Check more frequently if you’re working to improve your score, applying for a loan, or to prevent fraud and identity theft. 
  •  Checking your credit report does not lower your credit score. 
  •  If you spot a mistake, file a dispute claim with the credit bureau or contact the creditor associated with the error. 

How often is your credit report updated?

Your credit report holds information about your credit accounts. For example, it will record new credit inquiries and your payment history on existing accounts. If you have late payments on your account, that will be reflected on your credit report.

Your credit report updates vary based on your open credit accounts.

When a lender provides new information to a credit reporting agency, then your credit report will be updated. Generally, these updates occur on a monthly basis. But some lenders will provide information to update your credit report more frequently.

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How To Check Your Credit Report

If you want to check your credit report it’s important to find a reputable source. Unfortunately, the credit report industry is ripe with scams. With that, it’s important to stick to well-known sites. Otherwise, you could accidentally hand over your personal details to a scammer.

Here’s a closer look at where and how to check your credit report.

Where to check your credit report

You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

You are also entitled to one free credit report per year from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Additionally, you can access your credit report for free each week from each of the credit bureaus until December 2022 due to the financial fallout of the pandemic.

Another reputable place to get your credit report includes my FICO.

What to expect when ordering a credit report

When you order a credit report, you’ll need to provide personal details to verify your identity. Be ready to provide your name, addresses for the last two years, Social Security Number, and date of birth. If ordering credit reports from multiple sources, you’ll need to provide this information to each source.

After making an online order, you’ll have access to your credit report right away. If you requested a physical copy, then you should receive the report within 15 days.

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Why You Should Check Your Credit Report

Checking your credit report is another task for your financial to-do list. But it’s an important one to follow through on.

As you scan your credit report, look for any errors or potential fraud on your report. Even small errors can have a big impact on your credit score. But bigger identity theft issues can cause extensive damage to your credit score. Without looking at this document, you cannot see whether or not you are the victim of identity theft.

When you look at your credit report, you are taking a peek at the underlying reasons for your credit score. Since a good credit score can save you thousands on major purchases, it’s critical to regularly look at your credit report.

Even if you aren’t planning to take out a loan anytime soon, your credit score can still impact your life in other ways. For example, a low credit score could impact your ability to lease a car, rent an apartment, tap into lower auto insurance rates, or even work for certain employers.

Check for Errors on Your Credit Report

As you look over your credit report, look out for errors about your credit accounts. Credit report errors can drag your score down, so look for anything that might be amiss.

If you find a mistake, it’s important to get it resolved as quickly as possible. Whether you find a simple mistake or extensive identity theft, you can have incorrect information removed from your credit report.

Contact the credit bureau

One way to fix a mistake on your credit report is to contact the appropriate credit bureau. You’ll need to explain the error in writing. If possible, provide documents to support your dispute claim.

Each of the three major credit bureaus has an electronic dispute process. But you can also submit a dispute claim via mail.

After you file a dispute claim, the credit bureau will investigate your claim. If they determine the information is inaccurate, they will make the appropriate adjustments. If the information is accurate, then they’ll leave it on your credit report. Either way, you should hear back from the credit bureau within 30 days.

Reach out to the creditor

Another way to resolve an error is to reach out to the reporting creditor directly. For example, you can contact your credit card issuer or lender if you spot an error connecting to the accounts you hold with them.

If they made a mistake, they will be able to update your account information. But if they don’t think they’ve made a mistake, then they won’t make any updates to your credit account.

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Will You Be Penalized for Checking Your Credit Report?

If you are thinking of checking your credit score, you may have heard the myth that checking your score is bad. But that’s not true! The reason boils down to soft versus hard credit inquiries. Here’s a closer look at both.

Soft credit inquiry

When you check your credit report, you are making a soft inquiry. A soft credit inquiry will not negatively impact your credit report.

So, you should feel free to check your own credit report at any time without an issue. There’s no such thing as checking your credit report too often. But in general, an annual check will help you keep any negative errors at bay.

Hard credit inquiry

On the flip side, a hard credit inquiry can have a negative impact on your score. A hard credit inquiry is performed by a lender or financial institution when you apply for credit.

For example, when you apply for a credit card or auto loan, the lender will perform a hard credit inquiry when making a decision on your application. But sometimes, multiple hard inquiries within a set period of time will count as a single inquiry. With that, you can still shop around for a competitive loan option without extensive damage to your credit score.

How To Check Your Credit Score

Your credit report and credit score are related. But your credit report is not the same thing as your credit score. The information on your credit report serves as the base for your credit score.

So, if there is good information on your credit report, you can expect a good credit score. If you have bad information on your credit report, then you’ll likely have a lower credit score. Since these are two different things, you’ll need to check your credit score separately.

You can find your credit score for free through many financial institutions. Or you can sign up for a site like Credit Karma or Experian to monitor your credit score for free.

Check Your Credit Report Annually, At Least

Regularly checking your credit report can help you spot and fix any errors that could impact your finances. Since incorrect information on your credit report can pull down your credit score, this quick check can help you avoid major credit mistakes. Don’t skip this annual task to keep your credit health in top shape.

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A better way to refinance your auto loan. RateGenius works with 150+ lenders nationwide to help you save money on your car payments. Since 1999, we've helped customers find the most competitive interest rate to refinance their loans on cars, trucks, and SUVs. www.rategenius.com

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