Back in January, I checked my Equifax credit report as part of my diy credit monitoring system. This system involves checking one of you three free credit reports every four months.
The hard part, of course, is remembering to pull your credit reports on a regular basis.
To combat this problem, I ended up putting together an automated e-mail reminder system to keep me on track, and I also made it available (for free) to readers like you.
Well, I recently got my reminder so I knew it was time to act. I’ve found that it’s easiest to do them in alphabetical order so, this time around, I pulled my Experian credit report. Care to guess what I found? Well…
Dissecting my credit report
As was the case last time around, there was nothing out of the ordinary on my credit report. Just a boring rundown of legitimate credit activity. But hey, like I’ve said in the past, when it comes to credit reports, boring is good.
My report shows 20 accounts in good standing, though many of these have long since been closed and will eventually drop off my report. My oldest accounts (both of which are still active!) were opened in June of 1997. And there are a number that were opened to grab a signup bonus and closed a few months later.
I can also see a number of credit inquiries, including one “hard” inquiry from when I applied for a new card last summer, as well as a bunch of “soft” inquiries related to periodic reviews by existing creditors.
The only small oddity that I could find was that our oldest son’s name is now associated with my credit report down in the “Personal Information” section. I suspect that’s because we added him as an authorized user on our Barclaycard account. But since we have the same initials, I’ll have to keep an eye on that to avoid possible confusion and/or erroneous entries on my report.
Correcting errors on your credit report
I’m hoping that your credit report will be nice and boring, just like mine. If you do run across any errors, you’ll need to correct them. Each bureau has their own process for reporting errors but, for the most part, you’ll need to notify them by phone or mail, or using an online contact form.
Related: Credit Bureau Contact Information
Based on past experience, most discrepancies are fairly innocuous. For example, closed accounts might still be listed as being open. No big deal, but you might as well get it corrected.
But if you see a bigger issue, such as a creditor mistakenly having reported you as delinquent, you’ll definitely want to get it fixed. And if you see an account you don’t recognize? Investigate. Immediately.
Related: Tips for Dealing With Identity Theft
In addition to filing a dispute, if you see suspicious activity, you should consider putting a fraud alert on your account. Depending on what’s going on, you might even escalate this to an all-out credit freeze, which should prevent any further activity.
Get free reminders
Okay, if you’re interested in getting free reminders to check your credit report, you can signup below. This system will shoot you a quick e-mail every four months telling that it’s time to request your next report.
Note: This form (above) might not work outside the website, so RSS and e-mail subscribers may need to click through to access it. Once you submit, keep an eye out for the confirmation e-mail. Open it, click the link, and you’re done.
Please keep in mind that this service is separate from regular e-mail subscriptions (for article updates) so you’ll need to sign up for it separately. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy way of changing the message timing so the e-mail schedule will necessarily be based on when you sign up. But hey, it’s free.
Checking your credit score
Finally… While the credit bureaus are legally mandated to give you free access to your credit report each year, the same is not true of credit scores. Thus, if you want to check your credit score you’ll have to get a bit more creative.
While there are services out there that offer free access to your credit score on an ongoing basis, these are typically what has been referred to as FAKO scores as opposed to your real FICO credit score.
If you’d like to gain access to your FICO credit score, you can do so (once, anyway) by signing up for a free trial of MyFICO’s ScoreWatch. Just be sure to cancel within 10 days if you don’t want to pay for the service.
P.S. If you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft and wouldn’t mind sharing your experiences, please let me know. I’d love to hear your story, and I’m sure others would, too.