If you want to acquire top-notch credit, the first step in doing so is to:
a) Pull each of your credit files from the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion; and
b) Get your credit scores, which are marketed by various companies, and calculated based on the information contained in your credit reports.
Failing to Review Your Credit Reports Can Cost You Money
A shocking number of people have never seen their own credit files, nor received their credit scores. And such ignorance is costing them gobs of money.
A survey from Washington Mutual and the Consumer Federation of America concluded that being in the dark about their credit, and how the credit-scoring system works, is costing individuals in America as much as $28 billion a year.
Without pulling your credit reports and credit scores, you can’t give yourself a proper financial checkup – let alone improve your credit rating.
It’s no different than the person who says: “I’ve never been to the doctor, or I’ve only been to the doctor once in the past five years.” Would you treat something so important – your physical health – so callously? Likely not. Then please don’t be so callous as to disregard something that’s also of high importance: your financial health.
Federal Law Lets You Check Your Credit Reports Free Once a Year
To become better steward of your overall finances, you absolutely must pull your credit reports and check your credit scores, including your FICO scores and other scores that can give you first-hand information about your credit profile. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Thankfully, under a law called the FACT Act, you have the right to get your credit reports free of charge once every 12 months from the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The credit bureaus have even made it easy for consumers, by streamlining the process of reaching all three bureaus simultaneously.
The credit bureaus jointly operate a website (www.annualcreditreport.com), use the same toll-free number (877-322-8228), and have just one common mailing address that you can write to in order to get your free annual report. That address is: Annual Credit Report Request Service; P.O. Box 105281; Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
In addition to your credit reports, as mentioned, you should also get your FICO credit scores, and certain other credit scores too, though in most cases you have to pay for them.