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Financial Health Check-In

February 1, 2021

Your credit report is your most important financial document. It’s what’s used by lenders to determine if you’re eligible for a loan, and it may also be checked when you apply for a job, insurance or to rent a home/apartment.

The information on your credit report is used to calculate your credit score. Make sure the credit bureaus are collecting your positive financial activity to increase your credit score. This includes:
  • Paying your bills on time
  • Not opening too many credit accounts
  • Maintaining a financially healthy difference between the credit you have available and the credit you’re using
Carefully managing your debt demonstrates financial health and will yield a strong credit score. Good financial health also includes being vigilant about making sure the information on your credit report is accurate. Even government-regulated agencies like credit bureaus can make mistakes. The Federal Trade Commission reported that one in five people surveyed in 2012 had an error on their credit report.

Errors can occur when lenders send the credit bureaus incorrect information about your transaction history, or the credit bureau may have mixed you up with someone who shares a similar name and social security number. An error could also indicate that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. When people fixed their errors, the same report showed, that their credit score increased enough to bump then to the next credit tier.

Your credit tier is important because financial institutions make decisions about your credit risk based on your credit tier. The higher the tier, the more likely you are to get a loan a competitive interest rate.

A lot can change on your credit report in a year, so checking your credit report annually is recommended, plus credit bureaus are legally required to provide you with a free report once a year. There are three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. While these companies are similar in collecting financial information about consumers that they report to lenders, they are not related. Since lenders are not required to report to all three companies, the information on each report could be different, so it’s important that each report be checked regularly.

Get your free credit report:

  • Go to www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Click the button to ‘Request your free credit reports’
  • Fill out the request form
  • Select the credit bureau you’d like to order your report from
  • Answer the authentication questions to verify your identity
  • Call 1-877-322-8228
  • Follow the automated instructions to verify your identity
  • Download the request form from Annual Credit Report Request Form
  • Print the form and fill it out
  • Mail the form to:
    Annual Credit Report Request Service
    P.O. Box 105281
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281