How Often Should You Check Your Credit Reports
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In a world where personal data is routinely breached, it makes sense to regularly check your credit information to make sure its accurate and that it’s not being used without your knowledge. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests checking your credit reports once a year, at a minimum. Credit expert John Ulzheimer suggests a cadence of once a month.
Until the end of 2023, you can get your reports for free every week from the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com.
Note that your credit reports don’t include your credit scores. However, you can check a TransUnion credit score and report at NerdWallet. Your information updates weekly and you can check any time you want. Checking your own credit does not affect your scores.
Whats A Good Credit Score
Credit bureaus have slightly different scales for what makes a good or bad credit score. FICO typically considers a good score to be from 670 to 739, with anything from 580 to 669 considered a fair score. From 740 to 799, those scores are very good, with scores at 800 and above marked as exceptional.
How To Check Your Credit Scores
There are a few ways to check your credit scores:
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What To Do If You Don’t Have A Credit Score
For FICO® Scores, you need:
- An account that’s at least six months old
- An account that has been active in the past six months
VantageScore can score your credit report if it has at least one active account, even if the account is only a month old.
If you aren’t scorable, you may need to open a new account or add new activity to your credit report to start building credit. Often this means starting with a or secured credit card, or becoming an .
Examples Of Hard And Soft Credit Inquiries
To see who has requested access to your credit, look for the section on your credit reports that lists the inquiries.
Heres a look at some examples of hard inquiries:
- Collection agency
- Lenders: when you want to borrow money
- Cell phone company: when you apply for a contract
Here are some examples of soft inquiries:
- Pre-approval offers for credit: you arent applying for credit
- Employment credit check
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Who Looks At Your Credit Report
When you apply for credit, youll usually be expected to give your permission to the credit provider to check your credit report.
The term credit provider doesnt only include banks and credit card companies. It also includes mail-order companies and, for example, providers of mobile phone services if you have a phone contract .
Employers and landlords can also check your credit report. However, theyll usually only see public record information such as:
- electoral register information
- County Court Judgements .
Other Reports Youre Entitled To See
Your credit reports are not the only collections of personal data that businesses look at when deciding whether to accept you as a customer and at what rate. Insurers, employers, banks, apartments, utilities and subprime lenders may check specialty reports.
You have a right to a free copy of those reports, as well. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau keeps a list of available reports and recommends checking them as needed.
About the authors:Bev O’Shea is a former credit writer at NerdWallet. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, MarketWatch and elsewhere.Read more
Amanda Barroso covers consumer credit and debt at NerdWallet. She previously worked at the Pew Research Center and earned a doctorate at The Ohio State University. Read more
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You Know Staying On Top Of Your Credit Is Important But How Often Should You Check Your Credit Reports
The answer depends on your situation, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends checking your credit reports at least once a year, as well as under specific circumstances, including
- Before you take out a loan for a major purchase, such as a car or home
- Before you apply for a new job, as many employers check your credit
- To reduce your risk of identity theft
Freddie Huynh, vice president of credit risk with Freedom Financial Asset Management and former senior data scientist at FICO, advises getting and reviewing your credit reports annually.
If youre about to make a big purchase that requires a loan, it may be helpful to check reports a few months before so there are no surprises, he says.
Surprises, such as mistakes on your credit reports showing a late payment that didnt occur, could result in your credit scores being lower than they otherwise would be. Checking your reports helps you identify incorrect information, which you can then dispute with the credit bureaus. If the error is on your TransUnion® credit report, you can use the feature to help rid your report of the error.
What Is My Credit Report
Think of your credit report as your financial CV. It contains information that helps lenders confirm your identity and decide whether youre a reliable borrower.
This includes details of credit accounts youve held , your current and previous addresses, and any financial connections for example, the name of the person you share a joint account with.
There are likely to be three slightly different versions of your credit report, because lenders dont always share the same information with all three major credit reference agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion .
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Do Credit Checks Lower My Credit Score
Not every credit check will lower your credit score. Whether it will affect your score or not depends on why your score is being checked and whos doing the checking.
There are two types of credit checks:
- Soft inquiries: These are credit checks that are unrelated to you applying for credit. For instance, if you check your own credit, or if a creditor does so without getting your approval because theyre considering preapproving you for a credit card, itll be a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries dont affect your credit score.
- Hard inquiries: On the other hand, when you actively apply for credit or loans, your lender will run a different type of credit check on you called a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries usually knock a few points off your credit score.
People and companies need permission to check your credit
The Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates credit reporting and strictly prohibits the general public, including employers or landlords, from pulling your credit history without written permission. Businesses that wish to run a credit check on you without asking you first need a legitimate purpose to do so, such as preapproving you for a credit card. 1
Other Accounts Included In A Credit Report
Your mobile phone and internet provider may report your accounts to your credit bureau. They can appear in your credit report, even though they arent credit accounts.
Your mortgage information and your mortgage payment history may also appear in your credit report. The credit bureaus decides if they use this information when they determine your credit score
A home equity line of credit that is added to your mortgage may be treated as part of your mortgage in your credit report. If your HELOC is a separate account from your mortgage, it is reported separately.
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Should I Order Reports From All Three Credit Bureaus At The Same Time
You can order free reports at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year. Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports. Because each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in your report from one credit bureau may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two credit bureaus.
Where Can I Check My Credit Report
When you plan to check your credit reports quarterly or monthly, you’ll need to find other ways to access your information. While AnnualCreditReport.com is a great place to access your reports, the number of free reports you may be able to claim each year is limited to one from each bureau.
You can also check some version of your credit reports through:
- Experian: free Experian credit report with available upgrades
- My Credit Guide from American Express: free credit report and score from TransUnion, whether or not you’re an Amex cardholder
- myEquifax: free Equifax credit reports per year additional reports and services may be available for a fee
- Bankrate: free TransUnion credit report and score
In addition to the resources above, you may be entitled to more free credit reports under the following circumstances:
- You’re a victim of identity theft
- You receive public assistance
- You’re unemployed
- You were denied for credit or insurance in the last 60 days
All three of the major credit reporting agencies also provide free electronic credit monitoring services to active-duty service members and National Guard members as of October 31, 2019.
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How To Check Your Credit Reports
Checking your credit reports can be easy and free. You can obtain one credit report each year from each of the three major consumer credit reporting bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Youll need to input your basic information, answer some identifying questions and select the reports you want.
You can also use to check your credit reports and monitor your VantageScore® 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax for free year-round theres no limit on the number of times you can check and its a soft inquiry, so it wont negatively impact your credit scores.
Can I Buy A House With A 684 Credit Score
As mentioned above, a 680 credit score is high enough to qualify for most major home loan programs. That gives you some flexibility when choosing a home loan. You can decide which program will work best for you based on your down payment, monthly budget, and longterm goals not just your credit score.
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What Affects Your Credit Scores
Common factors can affect all your credit scores, and these are often split into five categories:
- Payment history: Making on-time payments on your credit accounts can help your scores. But missing payments, having an account sent to collections or filing bankruptcy could hurt your scores.
- : How many of your accounts have balances, how much you owe and the portion of your credit limit that you’re using on revolving accounts all come into play here.
- Length of credit history: This category includes the average age of all your credit accounts, along with the age of your oldest and newest accounts.
- Types of accounts: Also called “credit mix,” this considers whether you’re managing both installment accounts and revolving accounts . Showing that you can manage both types of accounts responsibly generally helps your scores.
- Recent activity: This considers whether you’ve recently applied for or opened new accounts.
FICO® and VantageScore take different approaches to explaining the relative importance of the categories.
Monitor Your Credit Report And Score
Checking your credit score right before you apply for a new loan or credit card can help you understand your chances of qualifying for favorable termsbut checking it further ahead of time gives you the chance to improve your score, and possibly save hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest. Experian offers free credit monitoring for your Experian report, which in addition to a free score and report, includes alerts if there’s a suspicious change in your report.
Keeping track of your score can help you take measures to improve it so you’ll increase your odds of qualifying for a loan, credit card, apartment or insurance policyall while improving your financial health.
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How Often Does A Credit Score Change
Since the score is a living record of a persons financial history, it can change on a daily basis. Typically, your credit score will be updated as new payments, account balance changes, new credit inquiries, or fluctuations in your outstanding debt take place. Though small changes in your credit score dont matter much, its important to monitor your score for major changes. Unanticipated things like identity theft can damage your score.
Your Transunion Credit Score
TransUnion is the second largest credit reference agency in the UK. It used to be known as Callcredit. You can check your TransUnion credit score by going to Noddle. You can also access your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports at the same time by registering for a 30-day free trial of CheckMyFile. Just make sure you have a look at their terms and conditions before you register. And if you want to continue with their service beyond the 30 days, a monthly fee would apply.
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Does It Hurt Your Credit Score To Check It
You may know that one of the things that will temporarily lower your credit score is too many hard inquiries. This is when a lender pulls your credit report to check it before they agree to lend you money. Too many hard inquiries during a period of time can be a warning sign that youre about to take on a lot of debt and you may be struggling financially.
But when youre checking your own credit report, you dont have to worry about that since its considered a soft credit inquiry. This action isnt considered a hard credit inquiry and wont cause your credit score to drastically drop.
Youve Seen Something Suspicious
If youve gotten a collection call for someone else, received information in the mail about a credit card you didnt open, or gotten a notice from the IRS that doesnt seem to apply to you, those are all signs your credit may have been compromised. A look at your report can determine whether theres fraudulent activity in your name.
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How To Check Your Credit Score For Free
There are dozens of resources available for you to check your credit score for free, but the type of score you receive varies between a FICO® Score and VantageScore. While both are helpful for understanding the key factors that influence your credit history, FICO Scores are used in the majority of lending decisions.
The simplest way to access your free credit score is through your credit card issuer. Many card issuers provide their cardholders with free access to their FICO® Score or VantageScore. Beyond your bank, consider free resources from Experian, Discover and Capital One.
How Can You Check Your Credit Scores
Reading time: 2 minutes
There are many different credit scores and credit scoring models
You can purchase credit scores from a credit bureau or get one free from some banks and credit unions
Many people think if you check your credit reports from the two nationwide credit bureaus, youll see credit scores as well. But thats not the case: credit reports do not usually contain credit scores. Before we talk about where you can check your credit scores, there are a few things to know about credit scores, themselves.
One of the first things to know is that you dont have only one credit score there are many different scores used by lenders and other organizations. Credit scores are designed to represent your credit risk, or the likelihood you will pay your bills on time.
Score providers, such as the credit bureaus Equifax and TransUnion along with companies like FICO, use different types of credit scoring models and may use different information to calculate credit scores. Credit scores provided by the two nationwide credit bureaus may also vary because some lenders may report information to both, one or none at all. And lenders and creditors may use additional information, other than credit scores, to decide whether to grant you credit.
So how can you check your credit scores? Here are a few ways:
In addition to checking your credit scores, its a good idea to regularly check your credit reports to ensure that the information is accurate and complete.
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