Every consumer with financial activities that result in credit ratings or credit scores is entitled to an annual free credit report, which means that it must be issued every 12 months. Mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) with its provisions implemented by the Federal Trade Commission and followed by the three consumer reporting companies, namely, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
The credit report is a record of your financial activities including but not limited to your payment of bills (i.e., utility and credit card bills), your history of litigation and arrests, and your history of bankruptcy. Think of it as a way for others to determine your financial management skills on a personal level.
Why should you avail of the free credit report? The document does not seem to have any bearing on your daily life and, in fact, it seems like just another junk mail fit to be thrown into the trash. Don’t even think about it!
Your credit report contains information that several entities including creditors, insurers, landlords, and employers will use for their decisions regarding your suitability for loans, insurances, and employment. Said report is used to determine your level of credit risk – the better your report, the greater your chances of being granted the loan, being allowed to rent, and being employed. Even the amount of your loan can be affected by the information contained in the report.
With such importance in your life, you must always see to it that the information contained in your free credit report is complete, accurate and up-to-date. You may just find yourself being rejected for a car loan even when you have a good credit record, all because of a single error on the report.
Your identity may also have been hijacked by unscrupulous individuals and their misdeeds showing up your own report. For example, an individual opens a credit card in your name, goes on a shopping spree, and then fail to pay the bills. Such failure to settle the bill will show up on your report; get ready to contest the contents on it.