The number of times that you check your credit report in a year differs from one situation to another. First of all, you can check each of your credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, which are the 3 main credit reporting agencies, absolutely free every year. There are no strings attached and you will not be charged, unless you unwittingly or deliberately, end up ordering some ancillary service as well such as credit monitoring or your credit score. (How to order a free credit report over Phone, Mail and the Internet).
Did you know that majority of people that set out to get their free annual credit report online end up spending money doing it? If you do not want to be one such person, read our post on How to Get Your Credit Report On www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You will learn how to anticipate and avoid paying for extras.
That said, you can check your credit report as often as you wish beyond the free report, as long as you are willing to pay for it.
The question is, whether you need to. For most people, the answer will probably be “no”. Most of the people do not end checking their credit report even once a year, in spite of it being free, simply because they have no need to.
There are times when you have an excellent reason to check your credit report. The most popular being when you intend to apply for a loan or credit. The more serious the nature of the loan, the more important it is that you review your credit report. This is done so that you have time to address possible issues on it and make it as competent and complete as possible before the lender has a chance to review it. For example, if you intend to apply for a home loan, check your credit report and score 6 months in advance so that you have time to do something about any information that you do not like. For more help on fixing and repairing your credit report, view our sections on Fix Credit Report and Improve Credit Scores.
Similar instances are when you are looking for a job. It is not uncommon for the employer to review the credit file of an employee before hiring. So it makes sense for you to know what your credit file says about you beforehand. The good news is that you eligible for a special free credit report if you are unemployed and seeking employment. Contact the credit bureaus directly for more details. You can find the contact information for credit bureaus here.
All said and done, you should check your credit report at least once a year. Just to make sure that it has all the correct information about you. Even if you do not intend to apply for a loan, having your credit file in order is something that you must do. Your credit report is quiet an important record as far as your future financial transactions are concerned. One way to do is to order your free credit report from each credit bureau at the same time. Another way is to order each credit report every 4 months. Depending on works better for you, you can do either. Remember, your 3 credit reports are liable to be different from each other because: a) They have different methods of reporting and recording data b) Different lenders might report to different credit bureaus.
There are situations that require you to be more vigilant about whats being reported on your credit file. These situations are usually when you are trying to build credit and wan to monitor your credit file or when you have been a victim of identity theft and want keep a close watch on whats happening with your credit. In these circumstances you will probably need a service like credit monitoring that, for a fixed monthly fee, allows you to see your credit report unlimited number of times.
So the question of how often you should check your credit report really depends on you. Once again, be disciplined enough to check all 3 credit files from the 3 main credit reporting agencies at least once a year. It is not uncommon for mistakes to be present on a credit report such as wrong social security number, incorrect name, account wrongly reported etc. all of which can effect your credit score.
Read more about What Information to Dispute and Correct On a Credit Report.
Remember, even if you are not bothered about it now, fallacies on a credit report can come back to bite you in the future.