Spring clean your credit report

Make it a habit to check your credit report on a regular basis.

Magnifying glass on paperwork

Just like spring cleaning your house can help your home become more organized and healthy for your family, checking your credit report once a year can help keep your finances secure and accurate. 

According to Michigan State University Extension, checking your credit report yearly is important; information on your credit report can affect your financial health in several ways. First, having a low credit score can result in being denied credit or paying higher interest rates when you need credit such as when purchasing a car or a home. Second, credit scores can affect the amount of money you pay for insurance, whether you are approved for rental housing and it may even affect whether you are hired for a job. Lastly, it also helps to guard against identity theft. 

Everyone can get one free copy of their credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. To obtain a free copy of your credit report, go online to Annual Credit Report, call 1-877-322-8228 or complete the written annual credit report request form. 

You are not required to make a purchase when obtaining the free report. Use only the specific address, www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free report online. Some sites will advertise free credit reports, but they will likely ask for a credit card number. This enrolls you in a monthly service for a fee that you may not need. 

If you find an error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting company in writing. If you find the error while checking your credit report online, there is usually a convenient online method to let the credit bureau know the information you are disputing. You can also contact the credit bureau by letter. The Federal Trade commission has a sample dispute letter to use a guide to correct the error. 

For more information on credit reports and how they affect your credit score, go to MSU Extension's MI Money Health website.

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