Obtaining your credit report is easy, free, and a must do each year. We live in an age where convenience trumps all and sometimes convenience brings trouble. As more of our sensitive data is stored electronically we will have more and more security breaches like the ones we have heard about at Target and Neiman Marcus. Even after reading John’s “Is Google Becoming “Big Brother”?” post from Frugal Rules, it makes you think how your data is shared and with who. I thought it is important to share how we can protect ourselves from identity theft and the best way to combat it is to obtain your free credit report.
The only place to get your free credit report is by going to annualcreditreport.com. Here you can get up to 3 credit reports each year from Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion. They will tell you the credit cards you have open/closed, any mortgages or loans if you’ve made payments on time and it may also show you any recent inquiries (please note it will not give you your credit score). You will have the ability to get a report from all 3 companies at once or 1 at a time. When applying the site says to get all 3 if you are expecting to make a big purchase (i.e. car or house). If you’re not it says to spread out the reports throughout the year so that you can make sure to be on top of anything suspicious.
I went ahead and did an Equifax credit report. I saw that the car loan I had was paid off sometime ago and the credit cards that I had opened and closed. Everything that I saw was paid off and did not have anything over due. I also did not notice any credit cards or loans open that I was not aware of. What I did notice were some inquiries. One was from a cell phone company that my wife and I switched to and the others were mostly companies that had pre-approved me for sometime of credit card or loan. This is the junk mail you get. All of which were soft inquiries which does not affect my credit score. A hard inquiry would be if you made an application for a credit card, or loan. You would want to check this to see if there’s been any activity that you haven’t done yourself. Besides the account information you should check to make sure that all of your personal information is correct and up to date. Anything incorrect could affect any future big purchases.
[Photo credit: www.LendingMemo.com]