Use the Web to Take Charge of Your Credit
We use credit to make many substantial business deals, such as buying a home or car, or obtaining a loan. Other times, we simply want to use a credit card to make our daily lives a little easier. Whether you want to learn how to select the right credit card, protect yourself from identity theft, or learn how your credit score affects the loans you receive, the Web can serve as your guide to understanding, establishing, and maintaining good credit. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here
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Your credit score can have an impact on many aspects of your financial life, perhaps none more directly than your ability to secure a mortgage or other type of loan. Use the helpful Web sites we recommend here to learn what your credit score is and the best ways to protect it so that you can obtain the credit or loan you need at an interest rate you can live with.
- According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to receive a free annual credit report from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies, which can be requested online: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Also, read this article from the Federal Trade Commission, which discusses "imposter" Web sites.
- Most credit information is reported to all three agencies, so your credit report (and score) may differ slightly from one agency to another. For this reason, it's worthwhile to request all three reports. Though yearly reports are free, the consumer credit reporting companies charge you for daily monitoring of your credit reports and other services.
- Managing your debt is one way to improve your credit rating. Take a look at the "How can I manage or get out of debt?" section of our findingDulcinea Debt Guide for Web sites that teach additional debt management skills.
To learn what a credit score is ...
explains what a credit score is and how it works. Follow the links in this article to learn about credit reports, as well as the FICO credit scoring method.
To learn about the effects of good and bad credit scores ...
presents "Your Money Counts," a tool that aims to help readers boost their financial knowledge. Click the "Credit" tab to learn how your credit score can influence a lender's view of you. This site also details how your credit history can affect you years from now.
The Digerati Life
has a blog entry about how credit scores affect your loan rates, along with other money and personal finance issues. Although the author confesses to be inexperienced with loans, this entry addresses many basic aspects of borrowing money, such as how much a purchased item truly costs after you factor in interests.
To obtain a personal credit report ...
sponsored by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, was created to serve as a centralized source for requesting a credit report from these three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. For more information about your credit report or direction to other credit-related Web sites, use the FAQ link.
also provides a free credit report and score when you enroll in its Triple Advantage program. The program has a free 30-day trial period that leads to a monthly $12.95 fee if you don't cancel the service before the trial expires.
Equifax Personal Solutions
gives online access to your three nationwide credit reports for $12.95 per month. The report monitoring notifies you of key changes within 24 hours. Use the "Get Started" link on the homepage to sign up for a credit-monitoring service and view your reports.
offers a 30-day free trial of its service, which includes your credit reports and scores. After the trial run, TransUnion charges a fee of $9.95 per month. Consumers can also access information about credit report disclosures and learn what to do if they are victims of fraud.
To improve your credit rating ...
was created by the U.S. government to teach financial management skills. Click the "Credit" link for a series of articles addressing various aspects of credit, such as improving your credit rating
and how credit can factor into a divorce
. Privacy, fraud and scams; budgeting; and financial planning are also discussed at this site. Search the left-side menu for more information.
has a "Credit Score Compass" to guide you in estimating your credit score by answering a few generic questions about your finances and debt. The "Credit Cards" tab contains information about how credit card companies stay in business, credit card catches, and the dangers of applying for store credit cards. You'll also find articles about improving your credit score, reducing your debt, and refinancing.
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