When, Why & How Often to Check Your Credit Reports
When was the last time you checked your credit reports? Many people don’t know when or how often to check them, yet there are certain events and times when pulling your credit reports and reviewing them makes good sense. Here are three of the more common scenarios:
Scenario #1: Before Taking Out a Loan
You should check your credit score a few months in advance of applying for a loan to be sure your credit is in good standing. You’ll want to have the best possible credit score when applying for a loan because it should increase your chances of getting the loan and help you get lower interest rates. Lenders will check your credit score to help them determine your creditworthiness and how likely you are to make payments consistently and on time until the loan is paid back.
Scenario #2: Before Looking for a Job
Many employers look at an applicant’s credit report because it reflects a candidate’s ability to manage their finances, which can be an indicator of an applicant’s personal integrity and honesty. So, if you are anticipating switching jobs or looking for a new career, you should check your credit status before any potential employers do. Some common industries where employers tend to check a job candidate’s credit include defense, chemical, pharmaceutical, and financial services.
Scenario #3: Yearly, Because it’s Free
You should check your credit reports at least once a year because it costs you nothing but the time to request them to do so. By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of each of your credit reports—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—each year. You can request your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com.
Getting into the habit of checking your credit reports at least annually will help ensure that they’re accurate and up to date, and it’s a good way to identify signs of identity theft and other forms of fraud. When reviewing your credit reports, keep an eye out for red flags indicating fraud, such as addresses where you’ve never lived and loans and accounts you do not recognize.
Knowledge is power, and knowing what’s in your credit reports is a good way to be empowered in the management of your credit. By checking your credit reports before major life events like applying for a loan or interviewing for a new job—as well as reviewing them at least once a year—you should avoid any surprises that could keep you from getting the credit, employment, and life you deserve.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult your own attorney or seek specific advice from a legal professional regarding your particular situation. Please understand that Experian policies change over time. Articles reflect Experian policy at the time of writing. While maintained for your information, archived articles may not reflect current Experian policy.