Checking your annual credit report is the same idea as getting a yearly physical with your doctor. It’s a chance to check up on the health of your finances, make sure everything is on track, and catch early signs of trouble.
But unlike a doctor, you don’t need an appointment to learn how to check your credit report. Anyone can get their own free annual credit report and use it to assess the health of their debts.
How to check your credit report
Everyone actually has three credit reports. That’s one from each of the agencies that tracks consumers’ borrowing habits: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Thanks to federal laws, Americans are entitled to a free copy of their three reports once a year. Each of the credit reports has its own 12-month period before you can get a new free report.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that you stagger each of your credit reports. You can request one every four months in a rotation, and get more frequent updates on your credit.
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and fill out a request form with your personal information such as date of birth, Social Security number, and address. You can select which agencies you’d like to get a credit report from.
Your request will be processed and you’ll be able to view your free online credit report on your web browser.
What should be on your annual credit report
Once you have your credit report, review it to see if everything looks correct. You’ll want to check to make sure the following items are included.
Your personal information
Your credit report should list personal information for you. Here’s what should be listed:
- Name, including your middle initial and suffix
- Current and recent addresses
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Current and past employers
Check to verify that it is completely accurate and free of errors.
Student loans and installment loans
The credit report should list all installment loans you have, including personal loans, student loans, car loans, and home mortgages. This could even include previous student loans that were closed due to a loan transfer.
Check the loan information against your personal records, including the loan servicer, origination and payoff dates, and status of the account. Note that the amounts are correct, including your starting and current balances.
Credit cards and lines of credit
Another debt type included in credit reports are credit cards or lines of credit. Each credit card listed should include the bank or card issuer, the credit card number attached to the account, and the year and month it was opened.
There should also be an overview of the current status of the card. This includes the card’s credit limit, current balance, and the date and amount of the most recently reported payment.
If you’ve had a lender, bank, or other entity check your credit in the past two years, this will be noted in an inquiries section. This will list everyone who’s requested a copy of your report in the last two years.
Some landlords will report tenants’ payment behaviors to credit agencies. If your landlord does this, it can help boost your credit just by paying rent. As always, check that the information being reported is accurate.
If courts have been involved in your credit history, you might also have items of public record included in your report. These public records would include bankruptcies, wage garnishments, and judgments against you.
What shouldn’t be on your free annual credit report
Along with making sure everything that should be included is there, keep an eye out for credit report errors. Mistakes, misreported information, or accounts you don’t recognize can be the first sign of bigger problems.
Your credit score is different from your credit report. Consumers who request a free annual credit report, however, might be surprised to see it doesn’t include your credit score.
Although credit agencies must give you a copy of your report, laws don’t require them to include a credit score.
Incorrect personal information
If your name is correct except for a middle initial, for instance, that could be a simple typo — or it could be a sign that your credit history is getting mixed up with someone who has a similar name (which is called a “mixed file”).
Other personal information, like addresses or employers you don’t recognize, can be a sign of identity theft.
Check for accounts that you don’t own, don’t recognize, or didn’t authorize. These can be a big problem, as they are also a sign of a mixed file or identity theft.
Misreported account information
A big red flag is an incorrect status on one of your accounts. For instance, a loan might be listed as open or even delinquent even though you’ve paid it off, or it could show a higher current balance than you actually have.
Errors of this type can happen if your lender misreported information or if the credit agency didn’t record it correctly. Either way, this can needlessly damage your creditworthiness.
Erroneous payment history
Your credit report will include a credit payment history for each loan or credit card, typically in a coded format. You can cross-check these codes against a glossary from the agency for accurate reporting.
It’s possible that a lender mistakenly reported a late payment or labeled an account delinquent when you’ve actually had a perfect payment history. Make sure your payment history is accurate and you recognize any negative marks.
Lastly, credit reports might include outdated information.
Credit history items should drop off your credit report after a certain amount of time has passed. Once these are removed, they no longer affect your credit score or report.
If you have a past bankruptcy or delinquencies that are over 10 years old, these can typically be removed.
It can be frightening if you see inaccurate information anywhere on your credit report. If this is the case, take action to dispute the credit error and resolve the issue.
Identifying and resolving these issues is the best reason for checking your credit report each year.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.54% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.54% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.67% – 8.96%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.23% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.43%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|