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Financial Literacy - Credit scores
Monitor your credit for free
Get tips for maximizing free resources available for checking your credit reports and credit score.
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12 free credit monitoring strategies

Experts from all parts of the credit industry -- agencies and advocates alike -- recommend checking credit reports regularly and paying attention to your credit situation in general. While Congress has guaranteed a free once-a-year glimpse into these ubiquitous yet still secretive files, how do you keep an eye both on your credit and on costs?

12 free credit monitoring strategies
1. Catch mistakes before they make it to your report.
2. Stagger your free reports for year-round monitoring.
3. Double or triple up on free report in these states.
4. Get it free when you've been denied.
5. Follow up for a freebie after fixing mistakes.
6. Check it during your job hunt.
7. Get a little added aid when you need it.
8. Take advantage of package perks.
9. Try a scoring estimator.
10. Check your score when already paying.
11. Save by doubling up.
12. Get free advice.

1. Catch mistakes before they make it to your report. Double-check your credit card and other lending statements to make sure you were credited for last month's payment and that all charges are yours.

2. Stagger your free reports for year-round monitoring. The only place to get your federally guaranteed free credit report is through the annual credit request service, provided here:

Phone: (877) 322-8228
Mail: Fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, provides for one free consumer report from each of three agencies annually. Ordering one report per quarter from one of the three agencies will give you a good idea of your credit information at any given time throughout the year.

3. Double or triple up on free report in these states: Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont. If you live in these states, you're guaranteed another report per year, per agency, for a total of six free reports annually. Georgia residents don't need to stagger for a year-round glimpse because their state law guarantees two reports per agency and year, for a total of nine free reports.

-- Posted: June 18, 2007
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