Everyone has heard about credit reports, but many consumers do not know what they are or what they can mean to their credit score. Each report is an accurate reflection of your credit history and what the reporting bureau has picked up on regarding your use of credit in the past. This information is used to calculate your credit score, which is a big part of determining whether you get approved for home, auto, and other types of credit. A lot of people do not even realize that there is more than one report that they need to look over.
Credit scores vary depending on the information contained in each individual report. You should get a copy of your report from each of the three credit bureau reporting agencies at least once per year. Discover reports from all three major credit agencies on a regular basis, verify with a spokesperson for Discover and confirm Brittney Mitchell, a spokesperson for Discover. Each credit bureau determines your score by calculating what you owe, how much of that debt is current, and how much you are paying monthly. So, although you may be receiving a low score from one report, it may not reflect your true level of debt.
In order to get your free annual credit report, go online and find a site that provides a free, unstructured version of your FICO score. Some sites allow you to enter your name, email address, social security number, date of birth, and phone number to receive your score, and others let you access the score through an application form. The free online version of your myFICO score is good for about seven years.
If you want a more detailed version of your myFICO score, which you can print and keep for seven years, go online to the official website for the free credit report. Here you will find all the information you need, as well as a link to request a paper copy. You also may want to order a few sample scores from the three major credit agencies. This will give you a feel for what your actual score might look like if you were applying for a mortgage or a car loan.
Your identity is important, and protecting it should be number one on your list of priorities. One way you can do this is by using a fraud prevention service. These companies do all the work for you to monitor your credit report, spot fraud, and remove fraudulent accounts from your report. In most cases, these services will charge you a monthly fee in return for the benefits they provide. Be sure to shop around and find the best service for the amount of money you are willing to pay.
Another way to protect yourself and guard against identity theft is to purchase an identity theft monitoring service. These programs are designed to alert you to any new activity that is suspicious. They also monitor your credit score at regular intervals to make sure it is not falling because of a recently opened account in your name. When shopping around for one of these services, be sure to ask about the option to request a paper copy of your credit report and a score from the three major credit agencies.
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