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The official government website is located at You will receive a free credit report but will not receive your credit scores.

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Before you apply for a loan or mortgage why not "check your credit" first to see if there are any surprises in your credit file.

As a creditor it is a wise step to check the credit history of someone that you are about to loan your hard earned money to.

You may be a landlord and want to be sure that you get reliable tenants renting your apartment or home. After all you spend a lot of money paying property taxes, insurance and maintaining your property in good condition to rent it to someone who has a history of not paying their debt.
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Perhaps you want to hold a mortgage or enter into a lease with option to buy with someone for a property that you own. You really want to know if that person is first going to make their payments and if they will be able to improve their credit scores to the point that they can refinance the property within a year or two.

As an individual you should take advantage of free credit checks just to make sure that their are no posting errors in your credit history. It is not unusual to have posting errors if you have a common name or have a Jr. or Sr. attached to your name.

If you are checking your own credit it is best to get a tri merge credit report. This type report will show your credit history from all three of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).

Since all creditors do not report their loans to all three of the credit reporting agencies you may miss some items that will show up when a lender reviews your tri merge credit report.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT) entitles everyone the right to order a free credit check once every 12 months. And, you can get your credit report on line, no need to involve anyone else. The official government site is You will not receive your credit scores with this free credit report but you will be able to review what is currently showing in your credit history file.

What Can You Learn From Your Credit Report?

You will want to look at all your personal information, such as your name, address and place of employment to see if it is correct. If not, send a letter to the credit bureaus asking them to corrent this information. Be sure to send it to all three of the credit reporting agencies. There address can usually be found on one of the back pages of your report. If not you can find their address, phone number and website url at this link: Credit Bureaus.

Next you will want to check all credit items listed. Look for any reported late payments. This will normally be under a column labeled 30, 60, 90 for that many days late. If you have not been late then by all means dispute this credit item because late payments have a negative impact on your credit scores.

Often people do not understand that if they skip a month and then continue to pay after that on time that all of their payments are marked as late because they never caught up the one payment that they skipped. This will have a continuing drain on your credit scores.

Check your public records area for any listings of bankruptices, tax liens or judgements. One thing that people often find is that the status of these items is incorrect. Bankruptcies that have been discharged will not reflect has such. Tax liens that have been paid will not show a correct status. These are also items that will negatively impact your credit score.

So often I see on people's credit reports a status of "filed" for their bankruptcy when it has really already been discharged or dismissed. This incorrect status will affect your credit scores. Send in dispute letters and get this corrected as soon as possible.

Student loans seem to be a growing problem for people and their credit scores. If you have student loans that you cannot pay make every effort get those loans deferred rather than allow them to become delinquent. Delinquent student loans have a strong negative impact on a person's credit scores as well.

If a creditor denies you credit it is often because your credit scores are too low. But, don't assume that your credit scores are low because everything in your credit file is correct. If there are errors in the reporting from creditors in your credit history, no one is going to get those items corrected for you. You must take action and do that yourself. You cannot do that unless you are aware of exactly what has been reported to the credit bureaus about your prior payment activity.

Should you be afraid to order your credit report online?

No. Companies providing credit reports online have secure servers to help protect your information. In addition, other things are done to also help protect your identity, for example, your social security number is not displayed on your personal credit report that you retrieve.

Already have your credit report?

If you already have your free or purchased credit score report and need to learn how to read a credit report, dispute any items and learn more about how to improve your credit scores, visit: How To Improve Credit Scores.

If you are a landlord or individual lender, ask the renter or borrower to get their own free credit check and bring a copy of the report to you for review; saves everyone money. Also, from the renter's standpoint it keeps down inquires to their credit file.

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