How to Manage My Credit
Managing your credit is important in ensuring your financial security remains in a healthy condition. I learned how to manage my credit using 5 easy steps. It is a process that involves checking your credit report and setting alerts for all credit report activity. Additionally, you need to take measures to protect yourself from credit card fraud and identity theft.
Here are the 5 steps:
Get your free credit report
Your credit report is available from three major credit reporting agencies in the country. These are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All three agencies are required by law to provide every consumer with a free credit report once a year. Full details of your credit report are available on the Annual Credit Report Site Annual Credit Report. It is an online hub that houses the three credit agencies.
To use the site, enter identifying information in a form and select the types of reports you want. Your credit report will then be generated securely on the site. Do you prefer receiving your credit report by mail? Just fill the Annual Credit Report request form here credit report by mail, and send it to this address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
One or all three agencies will send your report via mail, once the request form is received. You can also apply for a free credit report once a year by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Please note that you have the option of requesting your free credit report from all three agencies at once. However, it makes better sense to review your credit report from a different agency once every four months. This way, you will be able to review your credit details more than once a year. It is a great way of regularly keeping a watchful eye on your financial activity at no cost.
Credit Report Triggers
Your free annual report from credit reporting agencies is one way of verifying the accuracy of your financial information. However, there are other ways of doing it free of charge. Whenever you apply for new credit, e.g., an auto loan, mortgage, or credit card, your new creditor pulls your credit information. This process is required to confirm the details on your application.
When these report triggers occur, the law allows you to request a copy of your credit report. This is accomplished by asking the creditor to provide the information they reviewed when making their credit decision.
It is also important to confirm your credit information before making a large purchase such as a car or home loan. Do not wait for the new lender to discover issues with your credit that may take time to resolve. Verifying your credit status beforehand will ease your new loan application process.
For this purpose, use your annual (or rotating) credit reports, as well as the reports generated by new credit triggers.
Purchasing Credit Information
One of your rights as a consumer is getting access to your credit information free of charge. However, you also have the opportunity to purchase credit information directly from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. These bureaus provide an online service where you can view your credit report and sometimes, your score. This access will cost a monthly or annual subscription fee. The services provided range in price depending on the packaged product you select.
You can also access a 3-in-1 credit report, which contains all three of the credit agencies’ reports in a single 3-in-1 credit report . This service also varies in cost, and only requires a one-time fee. Typically, you don’t need to purchase your credit information. This is unless you have used your free report privilege for the year, or need to monitor your credit often.
Protecting Your Credit
One reason for free consumer access to credit reports is the need to review the information periodically for accuracy. The influx of new technology has created greater opportunities for criminals to use your personal information for malicious purposes. It includes obtaining credit cards, bank accounts, or loans where you, unknowingly, are responsible for the debt.
According to CreditCards.com, nearly 31.8 million U.S. consumers experienced credit card breaches 31.8 million U.S. consumers in 2014 alone. Reviewing your credit report is a necessary step toward preventing fraud and identity theft. This allows you to detect and stop any suspicious activity linked to your financial identity, which can be very costly.
Credit Monitoring Services
Even though I know how to manage my credit on my own, I can opt for a credit monitoring service. Several technology-based organizations technology-based organizations provide credit monitoring for a monthly or annual subscription fee. These services send you alerts when changes occur in your credit report. This includes a new credit card or loan, a hard inquiry, or a change of address or employer.
Credit monitoring is a sound way to be proactive in managing your credit, but only if you can justify the cost. It is a smart option if you are about to take a new loan or make a major purchase on credit. It allows you to correct any erroneous information or fraud, well before it ruins your credit report.Please note that credit monitoring services differ significantly in price depending on the company you use. Furthermore, the benefits they offer may be similar to rotating your credit report checks on your own. Once I learned how to manage my credit, using a credit monitoring service became unnecessary.
More importantly, credit monitoring services collect data differently from credit reporting agencies. This may cause a substantial delay in getting accurate information about new credit accounts, inquiries or errors into their reports. Before using credit monitoring services, confirm that what is available for free is adequate for your purposes.
How to Manage My Credit – Summary
It took me time and energy to learn how to manage my credit, without spending much money. All you need are the free credit reporting resources available online or via mail from credit reporting agencies. You should also remember to request a copy of your credit report after every new inquiry for credit.
If you need more help with credit monitoring, tap into the world of credit monitoring services. One or more of these strategies helped me perfect how to manage my credit in an efficient, low-cost manner.
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