Checking your credit report is the first step in obtaining and maintaining good credit. Why? Your credit report describes how you handle money: how much money you owe (credit cards, loans), if you pay your bills late or on time, and if you filed for bankruptcy.* By understanding what your report contains, you are able to correct errors, bring accounts into good standing (when needed), evaluate your financial progress, and detect signs of identity theft.
- Identify & Correct Errors. Credit reports may contain errors, inaccuracies, or outdated information. As these errors can negatively affect your credit and influence future loan rates and terms, you'll want to have them corrected right away with the credit bureaus.
- Evaluate Financial Progress. Regularly reviewing your credit report gives you an excellent opportunity to check your financial progress. It shows your current debt, debt you have paid off, and reveals if you are making payments on time. A consistent review will help you identify areas where improvement may be needed while bringing encouragement and motivation when you see positive changes.
- Detect Signs of Identity Theft. Identity thieves can open new credit accounts or loans in your name without your knowledge. When reviewing your credit report, you'll be able to identify these false accounts, report them, take steps to prevent further harm that would damage your credit and good name, and help protect your finances and personal information.
*Source: Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
HOW TO GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT*
You have the right to get a free copy of your credit report every year from the three nationwide credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Some financial advisors suggest staggering your requests over a 12-month period to help keep an eye on your reports and make sure they have accurate information. The best way to get your free credit report is to:
- go to AnnualCreditReport.com or
- call Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228
And everyone in the U.S. can get six free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
*Provided by the FTC.