Thinking about taking out a mortgage or auto loan? Concerned about identity theft? Reviewing your credit report on a regular basis can help ensure you qualify for the best interest rate and that no one is taking out credit cards in your name. And if you are considering a loan, it would be good to know your credit score as well. Here are some of the best resources I’ve found to help research your credit.
Before making a loan application, you’ll want to review your credit report to make sure there are no errors. If you want to get a copy of your reports with no strings attached, go to Annual Credit Report.com. This is the only site authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to give you free copies of your reports.
Even though I’m a fan of commercials with catchy jingles, the other “free” sites you see advertised are businesses. They will want you to sign up for credit monitoring services for a fee or send you credit card offers. If you’re interested in those products or services, then feel free to use them instead.
If you find errors on your report, get them corrected as soon as possible. You can find out how as well as answers to other FAQ’s here.
Unlike with credit reports, the U.S. Government doesn’t mandate that we get to see our credit scores for free. However, your credit score is one of the key items a lender looks at when deciding whether to offer you their best interest rate, so it would be good to know before making an application.
Up until a few years ago, most people had no idea what their credit score was until after applying for a loan. The only way to get that info ahead of time was to buy it from the Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that created the most popular credit score (FICO). Recently though, many financial institutions have begun providing credit scores free to their customers.
If your bank doesn’t provide you access to your credit score, check with your credit card companies. Some companies are now providing this info free on their website even if you aren’t a customer. A few are Discover, Capital One and Chase.
Don’t Fall for a Scam
One thing to note is that to use these sites you will need to give them your personal information, including your social security number. Since this info is highly desirable to identity thieves, make sure you are on the proper website. The well known web browsers will usually let you know if it’s unsafe. You can also check sites’ validity using a service such as Google Transparency.