You probably know that you have the right to check your credit report once each year, for free. And you might also know that there are actually three major credit reporting agencies, so you technically get three credit reports for free each year.
But have you thought about spreading out those credit reports, and not just getting all three at once each year? Here’s how I do it: I get one of my credit reports in January, another in May, and the third in September. Then the next January, I repeat! I happen to do them in this order: TransUnion, Experian, Equifax, but any order would do.
Why? Well, it’s a good thing to monitor your credit once a year. But a lot can happen over the course of a year. Say I checked my credit reports all at once, and the next week, my identity was stolen to open accounts under my social security number. I might not know about it until a full year later, when I checked my reports again. But if I pull one report every four months, I have a greater chance of catching an error (or a thief) in good time.
So, if you don’t pull your credit reports on a rotating schedule, I hope you consider it. If you already do, consider this your reminder to pull your next credit report now! (Assuming you pulled the last one in January, like I did.)
And remember, you should always get your free credit report from http://www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the site set up by the Federal Trade Commission. Other sites claiming to give you your “free” credit report might have singing pirates, but they’ll also try to charge you a monthly fee.
(You’ll be happy to hear there were no errors, or signs of identity theft, on the report I pulled the other day. It feels good to know that!)