Your credit record is an account of your personal financial history. Credit records are used to determine whether you can get a car loan, apartment, mortgage, new credit card, or in some cases, a job. That’s why it’s important to check your credit record at least once a year to make sure it’s correct and that you are familiar with all of the information in it.
What’s in your credit record?
Your credit record includes basic information: your name, date of birth, Social Security number, current and previous addresses, and employment information. It also includes a list of all the loans and credit accounts you’ve had for the last seven years, including every late or missed payment. Your credit record will also include financial judgments made against you in court. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, and legal judgments against you may also be reported as public record.
What are credit records used for?
Companies and individuals look at your credit report to determine whether you should be offered a new credit or store card, job, loan, insurance policy, mortgage, or even a lease for an apartment. Your credit record shows how financially reliable you have been in the past and gives an idea of how responsible you may be in the future.
How to check your credit record
The best way to check your credit record is to order a copy of your credit report. Every U.S. citizen is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
To get started, contact AnnualCreditReport.com, which is the only source of free credit reports authorized by the U.S. government. AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service that allows consumers to request free annual credit reports. You can request your report in one of three ways:
By phone. Call 877-322-8228. Your credit report will be mailed to you within 15 days.
By mail. Download and complete the request form. You’ll find it here. Then mail it to the address on the form.
For more information about AnnualCreditReport.com, visit the consumer information page on the website of the Federal Trade Commission.
Correcting mistakes in your credit record
If you find a mistake in your credit report, you can either contact the credit reporting agency and ask for a dispute form or dispute it online at the credit bureau websites. Also contact the source of the misinformation. Be prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth process before the problem gets resolved.