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Check Your Credit Report Online For Free - 3 Things To Look For on Your Report

If you're thinking about getting a loan or credit card, it's a good idea to check your credit report. In fact, experts recommend that we check our credit report every year. It's a good way to see if your credit score is accurate and to look for possible identity theft. Fortunately, you can access your credit report online for free. And when you get it, you should check for:

Basic mistakes and errors. 

Carefully review your basic information--name, address, previous addresses and social security number. It's important to make sure all this information is accurate so that creditors can easily access your report when you apply for a loan. It also helps ensure your accounts don't get mistaken for someone else's. If you've worked hard to keep your credit history squeaky clean, you'll want to make sure that someone with shoddy credit--and a similar name or address--doesn't mar your report.

Charge-offs and defaults. 

These types of notations--charge-offs, defaults or internal collection--mean your account is not currently in good standing. It's likely you've missed too many payments, so your creditor has either passed your account to a collection agency or intends to "write it off" as a non-paying account. Either way, this will lower your credit score. If you see one of these notations on an account, and you've been paying regularly, make sure you contact the creditor to have the error fixed. 

Extra accounts. 

Look carefully to make sure every account listed on your credit report is one you actually own. Check credit cards, revolving loans and regular loans to ensure that you are the borrower or owner of that account. An extra account that you don't recognize is a red-flag warning sign of identity theft, and it may mean a thief has obtained your information and opened a line of credit in your name. If you see an account that doesn't belong to you, contact the creditor and the credit reporting agency immediately to close the account.

Checking your credit report online for free once a year is a smart way to stay on the lookout for possible damaging errors or identity theft. As you become more familiar with credit reports, you'll be able to quickly recognize any suspicious or inaccurate information.

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