Spring is a season of new beginnings, a time for starting fresh. While many credit union members are taking this time to focus on refreshing their homes and gardens, it is also a great idea to give your finances some tender loving care. One way to start this process is to obtain and review your free annual credit report.
Credit Report Basics for Credit Union Members
Before beginning the process of obtaining your credit report, it’s important to understand what information the report contains, how and why you should check your report, what effects the info in your report can have on your financial well-being and, if necessary, how to improve your credit score.
Your credit report, also called a credit file or credit history, contains detailed personal information about you and how you spend money. The information in your credit report is collected and organized by the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union, who glean this info from public records and your creditors.
You should obtain your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. It will give insight into your own financial behavior and shed some light on how prospective lenders may view your creditworthiness.
Your credit report will generate a credit score which can affect whether you will be approved by lenders for credit cards, mortgages, and other loans as well as if you will qualify for lower rates on loans and better insurance premiums.
If your credit report reveals that you require some credit score improvement, begin taking simple steps to gain some gradually. Get on a budget and pay your bills on time. If you begin to lose control, contact your lenders, continue to pay down debt where you can and stop using your credit cards. If these strategies are not enough, it may be time to take advantage of some type of non-profit credit counseling which may be obtained through your credit union, another community organization, or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Tips on Securing a Free Annual Credit Report
Now that you have some background on the purpose and importance of your credit report and credit score, read on for some tips on how to easily obtain your report, cost-free.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act gives consumers the ability to secure one copy of their credit report for free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every year. Free credit reports are available from www.annualcreditreport.com – remember you should never have to pay for your credit report!
So this spring, before grabbing those brooms, mops, and shovels, sit down to your computer and take some time to make sure your credit report is as pristine as your house and yard before applying for your next loan from your local credit union!