Your credit score is not rocket science, bu the formula the credit bureaus use to arrive at it may make your head explode. Still, the higher your credit score, the less flaky you appear (on paper, anyway) to borrowers. The best way to stay at the top of your money game is to manage your credit like a pro. A good starting point is to check your credit reports, which you may score -- gratis -- once every 12 months. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you them, but only at your request. To learn your credit score, however, typically you must pay a fee.
Items you will need
- Social Security number
- Internet connection
Visit Annualcreditreport.com, which is the consolidated website set up by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- the three credit reporting agencies. Enter your name, address and Social Security number, along with your date of birth. Answer the security questions extracted from data on your credit report -- details that only you are likely to know, such as your monthly mortgage payment or a previous address.
Call (877) 322-8228. Press or say "1." When prompted, enter your home or cell phone number. Enter your zip code. State your street address or post office box number. Say or spell your last and first name. State the length of time you've been at your current address. Say or enter your Social Security number. Select the credit reporting agency from which you want the report. Your credit report will be mailed within 15 days. Allow three weeks for delivery.
Print and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form from FTC.gov. Mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Watch for the free credit report in the mail. Look for and respond to the offer inside the packet, which allows you to purchase your actual credit score separately.
- Do not contact the individual credit reporting agencies directly.
- Beware of other websites that advertise "free" credit reports. Only the website annualcreditreport.com is sanctioned by the federal government. Other websites may provide a free copy of your report, but only after you sign up for other services, such as credit card monitoring, which may be billed to you monthly or annually.