Unless you haven’t had a TV or radio for the last several years, you’ve been bombarded with catchy songs advertising a website called “freecreditreport.com”. Perhaps you’ve even sung along.
Clearly there is a market for monitoring credit reports— they act like a sort of financial health chart, tipping you off over anything less than ideal.
But can you get them really “free”? Yes, but not at freecreditreport.com; their site is one of several that requires enrollment in a program with accompanying fees.
Instead, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. It is the only site where you can check your report for free, once every twelve months per credit bureau (there’s three).
(You might need to check more often if you’re making large purchases, such as buying a house or car. It’s an excellent idea to know where your credit stands before your creditor does.)
Okay, now you’ve got your report. What are you looking for?
Check to see what late payments are listed. You need to check the balances and account status for every account listing, and check the date the account was opened.
There are three reasons there could be inaccuracies: one, you’ve been unconsciously sloppy with your payments, and it shows. Two, the creditor or credit reporting bureau made an error. Three, you’re a victim of identity theft.
If the last two of these are true, don’t panic. There are steps to take:
Alert your creditor first if you have a concern over their data. If they don’t resolve the dispute, you should contact the credit reporting bureau to start an investigation. They have thirty days to look into your problem and resolve it.
But… you must act quickly! The more water under the bridge, the more it will likely affect your credit score.
If you have reason to believe that you’re an identity theft victim, there are several courses of action to take. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website on the subject to figure out where to begin.
And if you’ve just been reckless… that’s all up to you. Bad credit isn’t the end of the world, but it does make life less pleasant.
Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.
Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.
I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.
Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.
Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.