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Credit reports contain a wealth of information about your credit history.  Consumers now can get a free copy of their credit report.  It's important to review your credit report at least annually to ensure it is accurate and that you have not become a victim of identity fraud.

A study by U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that one in four credit reports contains errors serious enough to cause consumers to be denied credit, a loan, an apartment or or even a job. The study also found that 54 percent of the credit reports contained personal demographic information that was misspelled, long-outdated, belonged to a stranger, or was otherwise incorrect.

The bottom line is: CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT EACH YEAR!

Quick facts about getting your free credit report:

  • Consumers can request to get free credit reports as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act.
  • Each consumer is allowed to get 1 free credit report from Experian, Trans Union and Equifax once every 12 months.
  • The free credit report does not include your credit score.

  • You are also entitled to a free credit report: if you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, if you have been denied credit, employment, insurance or rental housing in the past 60 days due to your credit score, if you receive welfare benefits, or if you are unemployed. In addition, you are entitled to a free credit report annually on request if you live in Colorado, Georgia (two per year), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Vermont.

  • Click here to view a form for requesting a free credit report by mail for any of the aforementioned reasons.

  • To request your free credit report under the FACT Act, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.

If your credit score is below desirable levels, your ability to get loans and credit at favorable rates will be diminished. 

Differences of up to 70 points across the three credit bureaus are not uncommon and are typically the result of different information reported in your reports. Since each lender can use a different credit bureau, it is important to check your score with each of the primary 3 primary bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

A credit score (ranging from 300 to 850) is the equivalent to a grade on your credit history report and is used by lenders and credit card companies to determine the likelihood that you will repay your debt on time. The higher your credit score, the lower the assumed risk to lend you money and extend you credit. About 50% of Americans have a credit score of 700+.

While no specific definition of “good” is universally accepted, the general view is that a score of 660+ is considered “prime” or “A” credit.

However, it all depends on the lender and some companies require a score of 720 or higher to get the most favorable interest rates on a mortgage.