Being proactive in monitoring your credit report may help you qualify for a better loan rate. Credit reporting agencies, to produce your credit report, keep track of things such as payment history, credit limits and available balances of open credit accounts. They are required by law to provide a free copy of your credit report when you ask for it, once a year. Managing your credit by including a regular review of your credit report can provide many benefits.
Among other things, when assessing your loan qualification banks rely on your credit score as distributed by credit reporting agencies. So, monitoring to ensure there’s been no identity theft is not the only reason to periodically review your credit report.
By monitoring your credit report from the big three agencies (EquiFax, Experian, Transunion), you can proactively ensure the accuracy of your credit history. You also get a view of how a bank might assess your credit worthiness. It may also help to provide a sense of how you might improve your score, perhaps by closing out unused accounts or paying them off. And, it may serve to remind you of good reasons to be conservative, especially with credit offers that you may receive, solicited or not.
To get your free credit report, browse to AnnualCreditReport.com. Note that each agency is to provide a free credit report once a year upon request, so you might set a schedule to request your report from a different agency every 4 months to ensure that you are reasonably up-to-date (and that they are accurate) throughout the entire year. The US Federal Trade Commission’s web site contains very helpful information about how you can use free credit reports to your benefit. Their “Free Credit Reports” post has many useful links and tips, as well as a very good “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) section.
Of course, your FICO score and credit report likely does not tell your full story. The economy of recent years has adversely affected many peoples’ financial status and an impersonal credit report can’t convey your integrity and commitment. No big bank can get to know you, either.
We urge you to talk to a “real peoples” banker in your community when you want to talk about a loan. Your local community banker can better help you when it comes time to consider a major investment, such as that new home your family needs, or a more reliable car.
Links to more information:
- FTC Consumer Information: Free Credit Reports
- Wall Street Journal Personal Finance Guide “How to Monitor Your Credit Score and Credit Report”