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Bankruptcy Law Blog

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to Check Your Credit Score for Free. For Real.

A few years ago you couldn’t turn on the TV without getting the annoying “F-R-E-E that spells free. Credit report dot com baby.” jingle stuck in your head. The ads certainly raised awareness about the federal law that allows everyone to see a copy of their credit report for free each year, but the company behind the ads was also charging people who logged on to their site a subscription fee.

The company got into a bit of trouble for their bait and switch tactics, and now it is more transparent about what it is doing, but thankfully free credit report dot com is not the only way to get a copy of your credit score. There are other ways to do so that are actually free, with no strings attached.

What is a credit report and why is checking it important?

A credit report is like a financial report card. It is a collection of information about how much debt you have and whether or not you are paying back your creditors on time.

According to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, credit reports often contain the following information:

  • Personal information - All of your identifying information, like your name, any aliases or nicknames you use, your birth date, Social Security number, your phone number, and your current and former addresses are listed.

  • A list of all your loans and credit cards - This list will include loans that you have paid off and credit cards that you no longer have. Information about your payment history will also be listed.

  • Public records - If you have any lawsuits pending, or have ever been foreclosed on or filed for bankruptcy, that will be included in the report. If you aren’t paying child or spousal support that you owe, or you owe back taxes, that will also be reported.

  • Inquiries - Every time a lender or other organization “pulls” your credit report that is noted and it becomes part of your report.  

All of these factors taken together make up your credit score. A good way to think about this is to think about a school report card. Each of the items above are like a class, and your credit score is like your overall GPA.

The higher your credit score is (on a scale of 300 to 850) the more likely a lender will lend to you at a good rate.

Filing for bankruptcy will dramatically reduce your credit score since it is an indication that loaning money to you in the past has been risky. This can make it more difficult to take out loans or get credit cards in the future.

Checking your credit report is important even if you don’t care what your credit score is right now, or you know your score is low because you filed for bankruptcy. Seeing suspicious stuff on your credit report can indicate that someone has stolen your identity and is racking up debt in your name.

How to check your credit report for free.

As mentioned above, there is a federal law that allows you to get a copy of your credit report for free each year. You are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you are turned down for a loan, insurance, or a job because of your credit score.

There are three main credit reporting companies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each one of these companies each year. You can get all three reports at the same time, or you can spread them out so that you can monitor your credit report throughout the year.

The federal government recommends getting your report (or reports if you want to get all three at once) at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

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Padgett and Robertson assist clients with Bankruptcy, Personal Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and The New Bankruptcy Law in Mobile, Alabama and throughout southern Alabama. Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”



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