Facts - And Fictions! - About Credit Reports And Credit Scores
Chances are, if you've even taken a passing glance at a television commercial, heard a radio ad or seen an internet pop-up, you've seen some nonsense or another about a free credit report or credit score. The ad campaigns are being made more and more enticing every day, it seems. Not only that, they're successful - if they weren't, the companies providing these services wouldn't be able to afford their marketing budget.
In all fairness, this way of thinking is somewhat reductive - some of these services are perfectly reputable and balance revenue generation and profit with customer satisfaction. However, enough of them are unscrupulous to the degree that the most prudent course of action is to play it safe and avoid using such services.
That prudent action comes with a caveat of its own - the importance of knowing your credit score and the overall status of your credit. After all, landlords, real estate owners and car dealers often base their decision on whether or not to offer you an opportunity to rent or buy based on this elusive figure.
So, with that in mind, here is some essential information about credit scores and reports. The first is simple but very important - copies of your credit reports from the three major U.S. credit bureaus can be obtained free of charge every 12 months. Your credit score, however, is another matter. Any offer of a free credit score is either blatantly lying, or carries with it a number of complicated and irritating caveats.
You can request your credit report in writing, by phone or online by contacting the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. They will offer the report for free, but charge a fee for your credit score. All other companies offering credit scores will charge you as well, in some fashion, whether they admit it initially or not. Choose carefully among your options in this latter category.
Do you know the current status of your credit?