UW-Extension campaign highlights simple way to check your free credit reports
UW-Extension’s ongoing “Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10” points out that it is much more important to check your credit report regularly than to know your credit score.
Your credit score is calculated using information in your credit report, and it is up to you up to make sure the information in your report is accurate and up-to-date. About one-in-five adults may have errors in their reports (www.ftc.gov/os/2013/02/130211factareport.pdf). These errors could affect how much you pay for a loan or insurance, whether you are offered a job, or whether you can rent a house or an apartment. Checking your report is also a way to detect identify theft.
Federal law lets you check your credit reports for free once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The free credit reports you are entitled to by law are only available through AnnualCreditReport.com and its associated mailing address and phone number. There are some other circumstances that allow you to obtain additional free reports (see www.fyi.extension.wisc.edu/creditreport).
To make it easier for people to monitor their free credit reports, UW-Extension’s “Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10,” encourages people to view their three free credit reports each year on Feb. 2, June 6 and Oct. 10.
“2/2, 6/6, 10/10 is an easy-to-remember set of three dates,” says Shelley Tidemann, Fond du Lac County UW Extension Family Living Educator. “Each represents a day to set aside a few minutes to request one of your free credit reports.”
The campaign’s website www.fyi.extension.wisc.edu/creditreport explains why it’s important to check your credit reports, walks you through the process of getting and reading your reports, explains what to do if you find errors, and provides more information about the differences between credit reports and credit scores.
Your credit report is a collection of all of your credit activities within the past 7-10 years, such as your payment history for a credit card or auto loan. This information is used to calculate your credit scores. Everybody has several credit scores–different companies calculate your credit score in different ways. Your scores change constantly based on your payment history, amount of current debt, length of credit history, amount of new credit, and types of credit used. Because the information in your credit report determines your score, it is critical to check your report regularly.
Although your credit score is not available for free through AnnualCreditReport.com, an increasing number of credit card companies provide credit scores to their customers. Financial counseling organizations may also provide free scores to clients (go.wisc.edu/56fsua).
Tidemann emphasizes that there is only one legitimate source for a free credit report, and there are many imposters. “AnnualCreditReport.com (www.annualcreditreport.com) along with its phone number and mailing address are the only truly no-cost ways to obtain the free credit reports everybody is entitled to by law,” .
Other websites claim to offer free reports, scores or monitoring, but they often charge significant one-time or ongoing fees. Unsolicited e-mails, pop-ups or phone calls offering free scores or reports are not official.
“Much like campaigns that promote healthy eating and physical activity, our goal is to help people save money and improve their financial health,” says Tidemann #Because of UWEX
For additional financial management resources, contact Michelle Tidemann, Fond du Lac County UW-Extension Family Living Educator at 920-929-3174 or https://fonddulac.extension.wisc.edu/