Did you know that approximately 7% of all Americans are victims of identity theft? The Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that credit fraud and identity theft accounts for $5.55 billion in losses each year, and this number is on the rise as technology plays an even bigger role in finance and banking.
It’s imperative that you regularly monitor your credit report and watch for signs of questionable activity. The sooner you that discover that you’re a victim, the better suited you’ll be to stopping further damages and repairing your credit.
You’re Entitled To An Annual Report
Federal laws in place entitle you to one free annual credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Requesting an annual credit credit report is a great way to keep close track of your financial standing and closely monitor it for illegal activity. It also comes in handy to request a report right before making a major purchase such as a car or house. That way, you’re in a position to negotiate a more favorable price.
Before you get started, understand the difference between a credit report check, and ‘credit monitoring.’ Credit monitoring from private services can be useful throughout the year between reports, but they provide you with what is called ‘soft checks.’ Soft checks don’t negatively impact your credit score, but they provide you with an estimate of your score based on your total number of accounts and balances. Any credit report will be a hard check, will show up on your credit score, and will have your actual score from each company.
How To Request A Report
Requesting your annual report is relatively easy and only takes a few minutes to do. Follow these steps to request your score:
AnnualCreditReport.com – First head over to AnnualCreditReport.com–don’t worry, the Federal Trade Commission recommends this service. Their service will access the three major credit unions listed above and pull your score.
Enter in Identifying Information – You’ll be asked for some basic information about yourself, including your social security number (SSN). This information is required to bring up your report.
Select The Bureau–Keep in mind that you don’t have to pull all three reports all at once. If you’d rather space out your reports throughout the year, you can select one bureau, and then run another every four months; however, when you spread the reports out, you loose the benefit of being able to compare scores for accuracy.
View and Save The Score – Once you’ve submitted the information, you’ll be taken to the Bureau website where they will share with you your credit score on file. The bureaus that you requested will also send you a letter containing this information. Save these records in a safe location and make sure that you date the documents so that you know when to request your next report.