Let me be perfectly clear here: I absolutely hate the credit score and everything it stands for and represents. But every four months I review, for free, my credit report. Here’s the difference:
Credit Score: This is an I love debt score. You have to pay to obtain this number. If you get a $1 million a year raise or your inherit $10 million your credit score doesn’t change a single point. In its entirety, a credit score circles around credit: how much, what types, how long, and is not a statistical measure of building wealth.
Credit Report: A historical and ongoing snapshot of debt accounts.
I use credit report checks to ensure past reported debt accounts are closed and that no new loans have been opened fraudulently in my name. You can obtain a credit report for free once a year from each of the credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. So spaced out over a year and you can pull one free report from each agency every 4 months.
But the process of going through and navigating the web can be tough to navigate as everyone has an incentive for you to click the wrong place and pay for something you don’t really need. So here’s a step by step guide on how to pull your free credit report.
(1) Head over to annualcreditreport.com to begin, the website will have a selection bar like this. Go ahead and select the state you reside and click “Request Report”
(2) You will be prompted to this screen to enter verifying personal data about yourself as well as a selection of which credit reporting agencies report you would like to pull.
(3) From there you’ll be asked to enter the last 4 digits of your social security number.
(4) You’ll be prompted for a few additional questions to verify you are who you say you are. Below are two sample questions I was prompted with. It can also ask something like, "Which of these addresses have you lived at?"
From there you can prompt yourself to the next screen where you will be able to view your credit report. So stay tuned for my blatantly obvious next post: How to read your credit report.