When I work with clients, I find very few who know how to obtain a copy of their credit reports. Today, I will tell you several ways you can obtain a copy of your credit report. Many people believe that if they pull their own credit it will hurt their score. The truth is you can pull your own credit report as many times as you want without impacting your score. The only time pulling your report impacts your score is when a potential creditor pulls it with your written permission.
Federal law requires each of the three largest credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union to give you one free copy of your credit report every twelve months. In order to get your report, you need to go to the website www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order all three reports at once or you can order your free report from each bureau at different times during the year. It is important to review all three reports because there will be some discrepancies in the information on each report. Also, there are studies that show as many as eighty percent of credit reports have errors. (I have seen a few reports where each of the bureaus has a different date of birth for the same person) The only catch is that the law does not require the bureaus to provide you with your score. The free website allows you to check your report for accuracy as well as any accounts of which you may not be aware, but it will not give you a score.
That leaves the question how do you find out what your credit score is. There are dozens of websites that will provide you with credit reports and scores for a fee. All you have to do is perform a google search to find them. It is important to use a site that will give you reports and scores from all three of the above bureaus. Many of the sites you find will tell you that you can get a free copy of your credit report and score. The catch is that you will only get the report and score from one bureau. The sites that offer a monthly monitoring service are usually the ones that provide all three reports and scores. Many of these sites will charge a dollar for the first week or two then charge the monthly fee. They will give you all three reports and scores once you pay the dollar and sign up for the service. I recommend keeping the service so that you can monitor your progress, but you can pay the dollar then order your reports and cancel the service before they charge you the monthly fee.
There is one caveat to be aware of when you pull your own reports. That is that your score is not a true FICO score. As I said earlier Fair Isaac Company charges the Credit Bureaus a fee every time they use the formula. In order to avoid paying that fee the bureaus have developed their own scoring system called the Plus System. The Plus System is designed to be as identical to the FICO System as possible. While it is close to the system it isn’t the same therefore the scores you get when pulling your own credit will be slightly different from the ones your lender sees when he or she pulls your report.
The important things to remember are these. Your score is not affected when you check your own credit. The three major bureaus are required to provide you with one free credit report per year. The bureaus are not required to give you your score so you will need to go to one of the many websites that provide reports and scores to get that. When you do get your score it will not be exactly the same score that your lender will see if he or she pulls a credit report.
John Clark runs Raise My Score Credits Services in Concord. He can be reached at 704-425-2071 and at his website www.raisemyscore750.com.