SEXY CREDIT SERIES: Part One: Order Your Report NicoleMcGruder Money Everyone is all a buzz about getting fit for the summer. We are all trying to get that Beyonce bod for the beach so that new dress will hang just right, but what about getting your credit fit. Good credit is indeed very sexy; and now is as good a time as any to not only focus on your physique but also your financial fitness. Your first course of action in getting the sexy credit you want, is knowing what’s on your credit report. “Saggy-Bottom” Credit Did you put that Weight Watcher’s plan on your credit card and stop paying? Did you pay off that high-interest credit card you had in college IN FULL? Did you sign up for that special offer at the gym but canceled it just in time. Oops, did it still end up on your credit? Stop speculating and take action. It’s quite easy to put our heads in the sand regarding our credit. Flabby arms and little extra jiggle are quite easy to spot, so it prompts quicker action on our part, but unfortunately credit isn’t right in our face all the time, but when it does show it’s saggy bottom when you are ready to make very important decisions in your life, it’s so, so unattractive. “I’m Too Sexy for My Credit” – NOT So you believe that you might have a little ding here and there, but all the creditors will still be swooning over you when you step in the bank. You might think that you have just a few late pays on your report, or you paid off that collection years ago, or just that nothing spectacular has happened since the last time you viewed your credit. Well, you might be in for a rude awakening, as your credit might be a lot less attractive that you think. You could already be an unexpecting victim of identity theft or of incorrect reporting. There was an 8-year FTC study that shows that 1 in 10 people have errors on their credit report. That one could be you! These errors can potentially bring your credit rating down and can feel insurmountable when trying to correct them, especially if years have passed. The sooner you address, the easier it can be to rectify. If you haven’t already done so, you should obtain a copy of your credit report ASAP. According to federal law, you have the right to obtain a free credit report every 12 months if you request one. Each one of the three reporting companies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax has to provide you one free of cost. Note, the only way to obtain your credit report free from all three is to go toannualcreditreport.com. You cannot order a free report directly from the companies. I would suggest ordering your annual report become a ritual, right there your New Years Resolutions where you promise yourself #1- “I’m going to start to exercise at least 3x perweek,” #2, “I’m going to order my free credit report, and son on. Place it on your calendar as an annually recurring event to remind yourself to order every year. So How Do You Get Your Credit Report? These 3 credit agencies that have potentially 3 different versions of your credit report, so it’s best to order all three. There are two reasons. If you find an error or omission, you want to complete the fix it once and for all. Secondly, you never know which bureau the the credit–granting agency that is about to pull your credit will actually use. Transunion seems to be widely used, but it’s not always ordered, so it’s best that they all reflect your correct information. There are three ways to order your report: Online Go to the official annualreportcredit.com website. Call 1-877-322-8228 Snail Mail –Complete the Annual Credit Report Form and mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Servic P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Don’t Let Them Steal Your Sexy (and your Money) Don’t pay for your credit report (unless you have big pockets and don’t care about paying for things that should be free). They will try to reel you in with a sultry offer such as a “free” FICO score as long as you provide your credit card number. If you don’t cancel within a certain time (typically 30 days), then welcome aboard to their membership plan and you will be paying a monthly fee for ongoing monitoring and access to your FICO. I signed up for one of these services once upon a time and shopped around for the best rate over a course of a few months (not a good idea, but I will talk about that topic later in the series) and then purchased a house shortly thereafter. Not once did I get a notification from this “monitoring company” despite the numerous pulls from a myriad of lenders and a new credit entry of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Needless to say, I canceled. Monitor your credit yourself and save your money. It’s cheaper. Will Ordering My Credit Report Give Me a Blemish? Ordering your credit report will not count negatively against your credit rating. Ordering your free annual credit report is considered a “soft inquiry or soft hit” and will not drag down your credit score, as it would if you were going to buy a car or house and they ran your credit report. Repeated “hits” of these types can definitely bring down your FICO score. Although, you won’t get your FICO score, you will have a full understanding of what is driving your score – your credit history. It’s like not having a scale, BUT being able to look at your fitness journal for the past several years where it becomes clear that having 10 cans of soda per day might be problematic and exercising once a month might not be cutting it. You’re bound to become healthier. Not having a FICO score does not preclude you from taking the same steps to your get your credit in shape. Wishing you all sexy credit you deserve.