The S.M.A.R.T. Method for Tracking and Receiving Your Credit Report

Credit Report

It’s a new year! Time for a fresh start? where better to begin than getting your credit in order.  Talk about “order” have YOU ordered your free annual credit report?  What a great way to start the New Year by getting your personal finances together.

For those of you who’ve checked your credit reports before, this post will serve as a reminder to do it again this year; and here is some valuable information you may not know so I recommend you read on.  If you’ve never checked your credit reports before, the first thing to know is that you’re legally allowed to access them for free.

Set some S.M.A.R.T. Goals to review your credit reports through the year!Credit Report

Your personal credit report contains details about your financial behavior and identification information. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion collects and organizes data about your credit history from your creditors and public records. They make your credit report available to current and prospective creditors, employers and others as permitted by law which will effect your ability to get credit and the interest rate you are charged. Getting a copy of your credit report makes it easy for you to understand what lenders see when they check your credit history.

Federal law mandates that each of the “Big Three” consumer credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — gives you one free credit report each year (every twelve months). The second important thing to know is that there is ONLY one website where you can request all three for free: AnnualCreditReport.com.

There are a lot of scammy and spammy website that will attempt to lure you in and get you to sign-up and pay to access your credit report but using AnnualCreditReport.com is the only free site you can get all three reports.

If you are wondering,  Why should I get my credit report each year?”,

let me give you 32 REASONS:

  1. It’s free and it’s quick. Were Denied Credit. If you were denied a loan or credit card, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from the bureau used by the bank to evaluate your credit.
  2. You plan to apply for a car loan.
  3. You’re planning to get a mortgage to buy a house
  4. Thinking about refinancing your home
  5. Moving into a new apartment
  6. Planning a major purchase with installment payments
  7. In the market for a new job
  8. You were denied a loan, insurance, or a job
  9. So you won’t be surprised at the outcome of any application for credit you submit
  10. Check for and intervene on identity and credit theft early
  11. You’ve seen something suspicious concerning credit
  12. Make certain creditors made no errors when reporting
  13. Help you catch and dispute possible errors
  14. Prevent your credit from being affected by others mistakes
  15. To get a negative report reversed
  16. You can see where your credit needs work
  17. You never checked your credit report before
  18. Been a while since you last checked
  19. You haven’t checked it in over a year
  20. Your credit score dropped unexpectedly
  21. You’ll save money by being proactive about your credit
  22. Track credit inquiries because frequent inquiries lowers your credit score
  23. Gauging the after effects of a divorce
  24. Your credit report determines your credit score
  25. Tracking payments you made on loans, credit cards and installments
  26. Check for outstanding bills that have been paid but still might be listed
  27. Preserve your right to a free credit report by allowing the governing powers to see that the public uses the law to gain free access.
  28. The higher your credit score the better the credit risk you are for a loan
  29. You Cosigned a Loan and like to check on the co-signed loan
  30. It always better to know
  31. It’s motivating
  32. Keep your credit in good shape

Credit Report

Bottom line, any of the above issues can have a huge impact on your credit score.  We’ll be writing about credit scores in another post so don’t miss out.   Go to Freefinlit101.com and sign-up and be among the first to receive all our personal finance posts right in your inbox.

  It is important for you to realize checking your credit report is not checking your credit score that is a completely different process. A credit score is an additional service that can be purchased when getting your credit report. In our future post along with knowing your credit score, you will learn what factors positively or negatively impact your credit score.  Your credit score is considered your credit risk and trustworthiness by those from whom you want to get a job, purchase or rent a house or apartment, give you a loan or a credit card, purchase on time with monthly payments.

When you order your credit report, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information on your credit reports, such as the amount of your monthly mortgage payment or an address you lived at in your past etc.

Make sure you get all three reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.  After all monitoring, only one of your three credit reports is like locking one of the three doors to your house.Credit Report

My personal recommendation if you are going to request your credit report is stagger the month throughout the year to receive each of the reporting bureaus reports (each report has a lot to take in) this will give you time to take corrective action on a report if needed.  Secondly,


 Researchers found that there are other websites out there with close misspellings of the official Web site, https://www.annualcreditreport.com and close misspelled websites lead you to website’s addresses that are scam sites.

 There are also known imposter websites that lead you to think you are entering the official websites Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion instead they lure you the customer to inappropriate risky websites.

TransUnion official website automatically selects customers to receive marketing information shared with affiliate partners.  Experian and Equifax have potentially confusing menu navigation bars that do not clearly distinguish between the free areas of credit report access and the for-pay sections.

Here are a few customer tips for calling:Credit Report

  • When phoning the toll-free number (877-322-8228) for a free credit report, ask that only the last four digits of your SSN are displayed on the reports to be mailed to you.
  • If you call for your credit report or have it mailed to you, have it mailed to a secure mailbox.
  • Know that you are not required to give out your email address in order to obtain a federally mandated free credit report.
  • If you do choose to go online to https://www.annualcreditreport.com to access your credit report, be absolutely certain that you have not mistyped the annualcreditreport.com address. If you see pop-up ads or if you notice that the site is not secure, close your browser and start over. (Secure sites will have a padlock logo in the corner, and the address will read https:// instead of just http://.) the “s” stands for secure.
  • If you go online to https://www.annualcreditreport.com to access your TransUnion credit report, be sure to look for any pre-checked marketing or newsletter offers. If you decide you do not want these offers, uncheck the box.

For complete findings of the “Call, Don’t Click” report and a consumer tip sheet, see: www.worldprivacyforum.org or www.worldprivacyforum.org/calldontclick.html

Let’s make your first order of business for this New Year be to order your free credit report by calling (877-322-8228) or thru the website at  https://www.annualcreditreport.com.   Use the S.M.A.R.T Goal system to keep you on track with all three credit reports throughout the year.  Let us know what your experience was like.






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