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Credit Scores

credit report graphicrrBy Shelley Swenson, Extension Agent III, Family and Consumer Sciences UF-IFAS Wakulla County Extension

How often should I check my credit report? First, let’s review a little about credit scores. Credit Scoring is designed to give lenders a fast, accurate prediction of the risk involved in giving you a loan. Scores range from 300 to 850 with the vast majority of people falling in the 600s and 700s. The higher the score, the more access to credit and better borrowing rate you will have. Your credit score is based on your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used.

It is recommended that you check your credit report yearly and it is free. There are three credit bureaus that will do this for you. Call me at 850-926-3931 and I will make sure you have the contact information and what will be required of you as proof of your identity or follow this link to obtain the addresses.

Free Credit Report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), along with the 2003 amendment known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act or FACTA), gives you the rights to do the following:

  • Learn what your credit record contains.
  • Correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
  • Obtain a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs) — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Under FACTA, consumers are able to access their credit report via mail, telephone, or through the government-authorized website, annualcreditreport.com.

The three credit bureaus are:

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
1-800-685-1111
http://www.equifax.com

TransUnion
2 Baldwin Place
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
1-800-888-4213 or 1-800-916-8800
http://www.transunion.com

Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
1-888-397-3742
http://www.experian.com

When you request your credit report, you will need to provide your full name (including birth name), spouse’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, and complete addresses for the past five years. You will also be asked security questions to prove that you are who you say you are to avoid identity theft issues.

An example of such a question could look like, “What is the account numbers for three current credit cards?”

It is important to note that with these free credit reports, you will not receive an actual score, often referred to as a credit score or a FICO (Fair Isaacs & Company) score. Through   annualcreditreport.com, you can access your FICO score for a small nominal fee. Make sure your report is accurate before paying for your score.

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