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  Credit Card Basics   Chapter 2: Credit reports, credit scores and you
Here's how to order and read your credit reports and how your credit score is affected by the reports.
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Checking your credit reports


If you are applying for a loan or credit, records of your previous dealings with someone else's money are vital.

Whether you get that credit card, or not, may depend on a network of credit reporting agencies that either share information with, or are owned by, three major credit bureaus. This report is often a critical factor in credit scoring systems that lenders use to issue credit cards as well as mortgages or other loans.

So, if you're considering making a major financial move it's a good idea to check your credit report to know where you stand. That way you can be aware of, and if necessary take care of, problems before they jump up and derail your plans.

If you find problems, or if potential creditors discover them, take steps to rebuild damaged credit and clean up that record.

If you've made mistakes in paying previous loans, bounced checks, made late payments or had other problems, you may still be able to reduce the amount of damage they will do to your credit with explanations or some basic repair.

Getting your hands on your credit report
Obtaining copies of your credit reports is easy. Thanks to a 2004 federal law everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of the main credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- per year.

You must request your free credit reports through a centralized source. To order online, visit By phone, call 877-322-8228. Or, you may complete the form on the back of the Annual Credit Report Request brochure, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.

Three other opportunities to receive a free copy of your credit report:
-- Updated: May 1, 2006
Page | 1 | 2 |
How to establish first-time credit
15 must-know credit card terms
The true cost of paying the minimum
How to read a credit report
Fixing mistakes on your report
What is a credit score?


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