Most Americans know they’re eligible for free credit reports once every 12 months from the 3 major credit bureaus, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. What they don’t know is when to check their reports. The quick answer is to check it with enough time to fix any issues before those issues affect you.
It’s also wise to see how your credit history affects your credit scores, so here’s where you can get started: get all 3 credit scores right here.
When to Check Your Credit Report
Every 12 Months
Since credit reports are free every 12 months, you may be ready for your next free credit report. At least once a year, you should check your score just to take advantage of the offer. But most importantly, you should know your credit score status just for the sake of its accuracy.
Before a New Job
Most job applicants know to review their online footprint before prospective employers do, just so no one discovers unflattering photos and unprofessional posts you may regret. But many people overlook their credit reports.
Because companies may request a background or credit check as part of their hiring process, it’s important to check your own credit report first to clear up any misinformation. While you’re checking your report, look for errors on your credit and repair them before they jeopardize the next job opportunity.
Before Making a Big Purchase
It’s common sense to check your credit scores before a big purchase, but people often forget to check their credit reports to ensure their credit scores are as high as they should be. Similar to how prospective employers check your background before hiring you, loan companies will check your report to know your creditworthiness. If you have less than stellar credit, you still may qualify for loans, albeit more expensive ones with higher rates. Here are a list of purchases that people often get loans to cover:
- Home improvement
- Starting a business
By preparing for your next purchase by knowing what to expect when others run your credit, you may catch credit errors or credit fraud in action, permitting you to stop or reverse the damage. Before a creditor rejects your loan you may otherwise be eligible for, know what’s on your credit report and if it’s accurate.
If your personal information may have been compromised
There are a lot of ways criminals can steal your identity to set up accounts and make large purchases with your identity. Checking your credit is a great way to see if it has happened to you. By using your identity, you will be on the hook when the bills don’t get paid. And, because some of these accounts will be set up without your real contact information, it could be a while before someone contacts you about it.
If you find mistakes, it may not be the end of the world. You can get the help of companies who repair credit or file disputes to sort out errors before they become a bigger problem next year.