Most of us have a basic idea about our overall credit. We think about it more when we are planning to make a major purchase such as a new vehicle or a home. However, you should take the time to review your credit at least once a year. With identity theft being such a huge issue, it just makes sense to be careful.

All three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian, are required by law to provide you will a free credit report on a yearly basis. If you want it more often, they can charge you a fee. The internet has several sites offering you instant access to your credit report. Be very careful doing this. They are expensive and may not be legitimate. There is no reason to pay for the report when you can get it for free.

A frequent misconception is that all three credit reports will have the same information. In theory, this is true. The reality of it is all three will have slightly different information because they record information differently. It is important that you pull your credit report from all three agencies, preferably at the same time. Each report will list any names you have applied for credit under, your addresses over the past several years, each credit account you currently have open, previously open accounts, and all requests for you credit report.

For each open credit account and each previously open account, it will list the creditor, the maximum of the loan or credit maximum, the highest amount your account ever was, and your payment history. The section with all requests for your credit report will list the date and who requested the report.

Take the time to exam each of the three credit reports thoroughly. Check the names of the accounts, the amounts, and the payment history. If you find any discrepancies at all, immediately document them and send a letter to the agency that has the wrong information. If possible, send any other information that can verify the correct information. This will speed up the process of correcting the reports. Keep a copy of the information you mail to the agency. Follow up with them in a couple of weeks to make sure they received. It.

Removing inaccurate information from your credit report can be time consuming and a lengthy process. That is another reason it is important to review them at least once a year. Nothing is more heartbreaking then not getting the loan for that vehicle or home because of inaccurate information on your credit report.

If you notice accounts you never opened on your credit reports or addresses you never lived at, these are red flags to indicate you may have become the victim of identity theft or are about to. You will need to report this information to your local law enforcement agency as well as all three credit agencies. They can set up a password for your accounts. This means that if someone applies for credit in your name, they will have to give a password to be approved. Many people who are committing the crime of identity theft have been caught when they can’t provide the password.