Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, the bank or company you apply to will want to check on your credit history. They can do this by contacting a credit bureau and obtaining it in the form of a credit report, for which they have to pay a fee.
If you want a copy of your own report, on the other hand, you can get it for free. You need to get in touch with any of the three main credit bureaus in the United States: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
It contains your personal identification like your full name, current address, year of birth, social security number, current and previous occupations, current and previous places of employment, marital status, name of your spouse, and your credit records.
The document may also contain a mortgage report, if you currently have a mortgage or have ever taken one. This will include personal, employment, credit history, and public record information. An employer report, contains much the same information, except that details on marital status and spouse, year of birth, and account numbers are not included.
It is easy and quick to obtain a credit report online, but at the same time, as with all online finance related transactions, there is an element of risk that must be taken into account as under:
- Firstly, make sure you type the website address of the credit bureau correctly. A misspelling or typing error could direct you to an entirely different website or even a phishing site. There are many websites with similar names and some of them are dubious, so be very careful.
- You should review your credit report every year, preferably, on a quarterly basis. Regular checking will bring to your notice any fraudulent activities within your account.
- As far as possible, avoid using a public computer to order your credit report for obvious security reasons.
- As mentioned here, you can access your report for free from either one or all the credit bureaus. Ignore emails, telemarketing calls, pop up advertisements, and banner advertisements that sell such a report. Keep in mind that you don't have to pay a fee, subscribe to any service, or buy any product, in order to obtain it.
- If you are checking one on your laptop, don't do it in a public place, where anyone can see your confidential personal information.
- It is all too possible for someone to hack your personal computer, so don't store any passwords on it. All confidential credit information, once downloaded onto your PC, should be encrypted, and kept secured with a password.
Now that you know the risks that are involved in this procedure, you are better prepared to guard yourself from any unwanted trouble.