There are times when you would need to secure a copy of your credit report out of need or want to manage your credit accounts effectively. Whichever among these is your reason, it is always wise to secure a copy of your annual credit report. It is your right anyway — you might as well exercise it.

First things first — make sure to get your credit report from each of the three credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). It is common misconception that getting one of these would be enough. Remember: creditors have the option to choose which among these three they would want to subscribe to so a complete credit report would be such report from all these three combined.

Another thing to remember is that it is best to obtain a consumer copy of your credit report. I know you may be tempted to ask your friend who works in a bank to just secure you a copy but this is not wise, as the one they have won’t be consumer-friendly. This means the one you requested for would be a lot easier to read and understand.

Now that you know these two things to remember when obtaining a copy of your credit report, you can start sailing through that piece of paper that can tell you if your credit history is in good shape or not.

Your credit report would have four sections: Identifying Information, Credit History, Public Records, and Inquiries. Below is a description of each.

Identifying Information. These are just basically information about you — your name, social security number, driver’s license number, your address, telephone numbers, the like. If you find any piece of information incorrect, don’t fuss yet. Oftentimes, it was just left that way to avoid cutting off links and committing graver mistakes. And you can always fill out the request form that comes with the credit report to correct them.

Credit History. This is simply a list of all your credit accounts with detailed information, such as creditor name, account number, what kind of account it is, and the status of the account. A part that you may want to check closely in this section is that which says how well you paid the account.

Public Records. With crossed fingers, hope that this section is blank. An item on this section indicates a problem, such as bankruptcy.

Inquiries. Another harmless section but one you should look into. Through this section, you would know who requested to see a copy of your credit report either because you applied for another form of credit or simply for promotional purposes.

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