Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Credit reports

Once a year, you're allowed to get your credit reports for free from the three major rating agencies.  Doing this is definitely not as much fun as making t-shirt bags or cooking eggs in a solar oven, but it's probably a good thing to do.  Or so they tell me.  It's about as much fun as changing the oil in my car, I think, and I do it with just about as much sense of thrill.  Well, actually, it's a bit more fun than that, because changing your oil doesn't walk you down memory lane, but credit reports remind you of old addresses and old names you had.  That is sort of fun.

Here's how to get your reports.  First, grab a stack of pre-cycled paper (that is, pre-used paper that's blank on one side).  Our own reports are about 10 pages per person, and you only get to see them on-line once, so you really will want to print them, even though it's a lot of paper.  Then give yourself a time window of about 15 or 20 minutes -- this was enough time for me to download and print reports for both me and my husband.

Go to, and fill out the information about yourself.  Follow the instructions to print out all three reports.

What do you do with the reports once you've printed them out?  At your leisure, look through the reports to see if anything strikes you.  In the past, I've noticed old credit card accounts I'd forgotten to close, for example. I compare this year's report to last year's, just to make sure that nobody has used our personal information to open new accounts.  Contact the credit reporting agency to dispute any information that they have wrong (such as listing a car loan as unpaid if you've actually paid it off).  For me, this takes another 15 minutes to an hour, depending.

Once I've gone through the reports, making any notes on it of things I think are important, I shred and recycle the older reports.  I write the date I got the report on the front of the folder where I store the reports. Then I make a note on my next year's calendar (really, in my tickler file) to do this again one year from now.

Boring, but important.

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