Not so obvious things which can screw up your credit score — and how to get your free credit reports
This is a good article about non-obvious things which can have an impact on your credit record:
And here is the site to use to get your annual free credit reports from each of the three reporting agencies. Note that they do not include the credit score – this just the raw data that goes into making up that score. It’ll list all accounts which are open, whether they are in default or late or what, your previous addresses, various closed accounts, and the credit inquiries which have been made recently.
Be careful about going to any site which offers free credit reports or scores – always use that link I put there (or get to that link by looking for the link on the Federal Trade Commission’s site here: <http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports>
Many (most) of the sites offering “free” credit reports (and *all* of them offering free credit scores) only give it to you “free” in exchange for signing up for some kind of credit monitoring deal — which starts to cost a lot fast. You shouldn’t have to sign up for anything to get your own information.
Each credit reporting agency is required, by law, to provide you with a free credit report once per year. If you stagger them, you can get one every four months by rotating through Equifax, Experian and TransUnion in sequence.
Regardless, you should get at least one of those reports at least once per year. Make sure no accounts are open that you didn’t open. Make sure none of the accounts has inaccurate information. Make sure that accounts which you thought were closed are reported as such. And contact them to fix any errors you find.