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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 |

Report Card

Because I work in the financial services industry, specifically doing financial education, I know a lot about credit and credit reports. But sometimes I forget to take my own advice.One of the statistics I like to share with people is that three-quarters of all credit reports have at least one error on them and about one-third have an error that will most likely destroy your ability to get credit. What’s even worse is that these errors can be corrected and prevented easily.But most people don’t know where or how to pull their credit report. Most people think immediately of the fun and catchy commercials of freecreditreport.com. However, they are generally surprised to find out that it isn’t free—you are signed up for a credit monitoring program at a cost of $15 a month. The only place that is sponsored by all three credit reporting bureaus and the Federal Government is annualcreditreport.com.

A couple weeks ago, probably after giving a workshop and talk about credit, I realized I hadn’t pulled my credit report in a while. I was embarrassed. Here I am talking to all these people, preaching to them to check their credit report annually, when I haven’t in a couple years!

I went to annualcreditreport.com and pulled my report. It’s a pretty painless process, you just need to remember stuff about yourself, such as the street you grew up on and what type of loans you might have. Then you’re good to go.

Because you’re allowed to pull your credit report for free from each of the bureaus annually, I only pulled my report from one of them—Experian. Then in four months, I’ll pull from Equifax, and then four months from then, I’ll pull the report from TransUnion.

I read through the report; it ended up being about 12 pages, and I looked for errors or wrong information. I checked to make sure all my accounts were up to date and that there weren’t any issues. This is a great way to check for identity theft or fraud. If you see something that you don’t remember opening, contact that company right away.

I was also interested to see who had been looking at my credit. When companies want to offer you credit, (for example, a credit card), they will look at your credit to determine if you can prequalify. This is only a soft hit against your report, but it will show up in a different section than those you permitted (you can always opt out from these offers by going to optoutprescreen.com).

Luckily, my credit report looked good. I didn’t find any errors and I could account for all the open lines of credit and loans in my name. But I need to remember to check my report on a regular basis. It’s a simple step in making sure that your credit life is in order. Plus, if I’m going to teach it, I better act on it too.

Have you pulled your credit report recently?

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