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Getting Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores for Free!

by J. Money on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

j. money vantage score
You know what’s more satisfying than knowing your credit history? Getting it for free :) I already had a rough idea of where i stood, but checking it out every now and then helps to make me feel better, not to mention SURE that no one else is trying to be J. Money!

There’s a whole gaggle of places to get your credit report, score, monitoring, and 100 other related services, but I usually just use AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s 100% free, and can be used every year to pull your report from all 3 major agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. It’s also important to know that it’s the ONLY site authorized by the Federal Trade Commission. (so watch out for shady imitators)

I pulled my report for the first time in 2 years last night (i’m lazy), and interestingly enough i had over 27 accounts on there! haha…i knew i had a handful, buy my damn i have to close out a cple old credit cards. Although, in my defense it does show history back from the college days when i got those stupid free t-shirts that i mentioned in yesterday’s post. I’m a little more watchful these days :)

Also, for whatever reason I can usually only pull the report online from just 1 of the 3 agencies from that site. It always tells me to call the other two and go that route…but, once again, just too lazy to do it. Does that happen to you guys? I’ve only been able to get it smoothly from Experian.

A couple of notes if it’s your first time doing this too – You usually have to prove a looooooooot of stuff to make sure you are who you say you are. Think old addresses, old credit cards, mortgage amounts, you name it. 2 years ago it took me quite a bit of time in researching it all, but if you’re more on top of it than i was it should be easier. Especially when you come back year after year (which is a great idea).

So that’s the best place i’ve found to get your report, but what about your actual SCORE? Yeah, i always forget this isn’t included in the whole “Free” part. But don’t worry, they give you the opportunity to get it quick as hell for *just* $5.99 ;) And you know what? I fall for it every time. But it’s totally worth it cuz i can do it right then and there, and i know for SURE i wont’ be coming back anytime soon.

There are different kinds of scores out there, like Vantage and FICO, so just keep that in mind when comparing and all. The top VantageScore is 990, in contrast to the top FICO score of 850. So my 876 looks extremely good *if only* it were a FICO score and not a Vantage score … although it’s still pretty good ;) According to Bankrate, you could multiply your VantageScore by 0.86 (850/990) to get a rough approximation of your FICO score. So a good estimate of my FICO score would be 753 (876x.86).

Ooooooh also, before i forget, i read in this month’s Money Mag that some lawsuit got slapped on TransUnion, and they’re now giving away a $60 service for FREE until Sept 24th – you get your credit report and unlimited credit SCORE checks for 6 months straight. As long as you have had a credit card in the last 20 years you qualify! Just don’t forget to cancel it afterwards, eh? More info is at listclassaction.com or by calling 866-416-3470.

Before i go, i wanna leave you with 3 myths that i read while printing off my report on Experian. I fell for the first one!

  1. Myth #1: Checking my own credit report will lower my score.
    “Personal inquiries, also known as “soft inquiries” or “below the line inquiries,” are not visible to lenders and therefore are not part of your credit score calculation. So you can rest easy—checking your own credit report or score does NOT negatively impact your score.”
  2. Myth #2: Applying for new credit will actually lower my score.
    “This depends on the type of credit you’re applying for. If you apply for several credit cards within a short period of time, the number of inquiries will go up, which could drop your score. But if you’re applying for a mortgage or auto loan, multiple inquiries from these lenders are generally treated as a “single inquiry” and will have little impact on your credit score.”
  3. Myth #3: My score is the only thing that matters to a lender.
    “In addition to your credit score, credit grantors may consider a number of other factors such as your income, assets, length at current residence and employment history when determining whether to extend credit. The criteria used may differ from one creditor to another.”

Alrighty, i’m all credited out now….man, that was a lot of info i just pumped out in 30 minutes! Hopefully this helps anyone who didn’t alread know. And remember, knowledge is power! Just ask G.I. Joe.


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