You can check your credit rating from all three of the major credit reporting agencies for free to insure the accuracy of your report. Simply log onto the Internet and go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Alternatively, you can receive your free report if you call 1-877-322-8228. You are allowed to obtain one free report from each agency annually.
Why bother to get a credit report? Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar industry, and checking your credit rating is one of the best ways to protect yourself. You might also be surprised at the number of mistakes that can be found on credit reports. Relatives or even non-relatives with the same (or similar) last name could have their credit information jumbled with yours. Individual companies could have incorrectly reported a negative credit occurrence (in the form of a delinquent payment or nonpayment) to the reporting agencies. Reviewing your credit report is a way to find and fix those negative credit issues.
What if there's an error? If you find an error, it might take some time to fix, but all of the agencies will provide you with instructions on how to correct errors. It's possible that you'll also have to contact the company that gave the incorrect information to the credit reporting agency. All of this communication should be done in writing.
One thing you can't get for free is your credit (or FICO) score. This is the number that companies use to determine how well you manage your credit. You will still be required to contact the three agencies individually in order to, for a fee, obtain your FICO score. However, watch for the "free" credit rating come-ons. If you use another service, either by e-mail or telephone solicitation, you will likely be charged for something that you can get for free.