Updated November 13, 2013

Why You Should Check Your Credit Report

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Nearly 19.7% of respondents to a CreditDonkey.com survey have found errors when checking their credit report. The survey of over 1,000 respondents found that the majority of people have checked their credit report at least once. However, this high error rate should prompt consumers to use more diligence when it comes to checking their credit reputation.

Consumers may find errors because of a mistake or, worse, fraud. Just one-third of respondents review their reports once a year, while 61% have requested a copy of their credit report and their credit score at least once.

One-third of respondents check their credit once per year.

Those that check their credit are taking advantage of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which allows consumers to access a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, once per year (available via AnnualCreditReport.com).

This is the only approved website for consumers to check credit reports for free, so consumers need to be wary of funny TV ads singing about free credit reports, scores, and other promises. Many companies advertise free credit reports but require signing up for other services to get the free report. Instead, CreditDonkey recommends you stagger your free reports by requesting a report from one agency every four months instead of all three agencies at once.

College students are the least likely group to check credit.

It’s not surprising that 45.5% of college students responding to our survey have never reviewed their credit report, given their lack of knowledge and experience with credit. In fact, they may not even realize they have a credit history unless they have opened a credit card or have taken out a loan. Once they start borrowing, they should get in the habit of checking their credit for accuracy every year, also, to be sure the report is accurate.

Reasons to check your credit reports include:

  • Tip-offs to identity or account theft
  • Accuracy of personal and account information
  • Removal of outdated information

Fortunately, each credit bureau has a disputing process to get errors removed or corrected.

If your report is correct but filled with negative information, take action to work on improving your credit score. In addition, take heart that with the exception of Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, judgments, and delinquent government loans, other negative data is removed from a credit report after seven years.

(CreditDonkey.com polled 1,109 Americans, age 18 and over between January 4 and January 8, 2013 for their views on credit cards, saving, retirement planning and other financial issues with 38 multiple-choice and yes/no questions.)

Naomi Mannino is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Naomi Mannino at naomi@creditdonkey.com

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CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

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