You can check your credit report for free in each of these situations:
- Through https://www.annualcreditreport.com, you can obtain your credit report for free from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies once per 12 months.
- If you applied for credit (a credit card, a mortgage, an auto loan, or a new insurance policy) and were denied the best possible rate, you can obtain your credit report for free from the agency that the credit company used.
I have reminders set for each of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. I started out checking each one four months after the other, but then after I had checked with a particular company, I kept track of the last date and added 12 months to that date for the next reminder.
During the condo buying process, I’ve had an opportunity to check my credit report for free. Why not take advantage of this offer when it doesn’t cost me anything? By doing this, I actually noticed a discrepancy in my file – one of my credit companies hadn’t reported on my file in several months – so I followed up on that. Hopefully that will improve my credit score since that will reduce my used credit ratio significantly. I wish I had noticed this discrepancy when I did a credit history check a few weeks before applying for the mortgage, but it was definitely more obvious of a problem now.
I also noticed several interesting facts while glancing through the Inquiries section:
- Every time I’ve applied for a credit card, a mortgage, an auto loan, or to increase the limit on an existing credit card, that was a hard pull and is visible to lenders who check my credit report. (I already knew this one.)
- My cable/internet company did a hard pull when I opened my account originally. (I hope they don’t do another hard pull when I move!)
- My cell phone carrier did both a hard pull and a soft pull when I signed a two-year contract. I’m not quite sure why it shows up as both… (I wonder if they would do this again if I tried to renew my contract.)
- ING Direct did a soft pull at some random point last year. I’m not quite sure what this was for, but I won’t protest it since only I can see it.
- My insurance company has only done soft pulls.
I can ask my insurance company to re-rate each of my policies (auto, condo, umbrella) with a current credit-based insurance score once per policy period. My auto insurance policy is by far the most expensive, so I will do this check once per that policy period. There was already a significant change in the cost of my auto insurance policy based on the purchase of my condo and moving, so I set a reminder to ask my insurance company to re-check my credit-based insurance score at the start of the next auto insurance policy. Hopefully that will save me even more on my auto insurance!
Readers, have you ever found a discrepancy while checking your credit report?