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Its a new year, time to check your credit report

The new year is a great time to check your credit report if you haven’t done so recently. And, there are now more free ways to track your credit than ever.

Government mandated website for requesting your credit report

The first way to check your credit report is one we’ve recommended for a long time.  Simply go to AnnualCreditReport.com.  This is the website the federal government required the credit reporting agencies set up so you could get a copy of your credit report from each company, once a year, for free.  Its still the only way I know to get a copy for free, from all 3 agencies.  Simply fill out the request form and get a copy.  Since you get reports from all 3, you could choose to spread the requests throughout the year, so that you see how things change over time.

My experience, though, is that one or two agencies will have more complete information on you than others… and this can vary by part of the county you are in.  For me, Experian has the most complete info.

What’s the difference between AnnualCreditReport.com and CreditKarma.com?

I learned about CreditKarma.com from TechCrunch. Credit Karma will provide you a copy of your Fair Isaac (FICO) credit score and copies of your credit report from TransUnion and Equifax (but not Experian). Those are the two main differences in information… the Annual Credit Report site does not provide your credit score (though you can order it), and it does provide your Experian Credit report.

Why does Credit Karma provide this information for free? (Or, rather, how does it make money from providing this information?)  It uses the information it gathers from the credit reports, which you gave it permission to do, in order to present you offers for financial services you might need, and then gets paid if you buy those services.  In theory it doesn’t sell your information to anyone.  Most importantly, it doesn’t charge you directly for either the score or credit reports.

Both sites provide information about challenging incorrect information.

No  matter where you go, be sure to check your report regularly. This will help prevent identity theft, incorrect information, and also let you know where you are having problems like missed payments.  Make a point of doing it today!

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