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Here's what to look for when you review your credit report

Credit reports list personal information, account details, inquiries and public record data. Here's what to focus on and how credit monitoring helps you keep track.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Monitoring your credit report on a regular basis is a helpful way to track your finances and safeguard yourself from fraud. 

The information that appears on your credit report summarizes how you manage credit, which helps lenders gauge whether they should extend credit to you or not. Errors on your report can hurt your approval odds for credit cards, loans and more.

But with so much information listed on your credit report, it can be overwhelming to figure out what you should focus on. And since you have a credit report with each major credit bureauExperian, Equifax and TransUnion — there’s three times the amount of data to review. 

Nonetheless, you should routinely review your credit reports from all three bureaus. You can access each of your credit reports for free every week until April 20, 2022 by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. 

Select breaks down the key details you should pay close attention to when reviewing your credit report.

What to look for when you review your credit report

When you review your credit reports, look for changes to your personal information. This includes account details, inquiries and public record data. If something looks suspicious, double check that it’s not a mistake on your end, then dispute the error.

Here are some common errors you could see in each section of your credit report:

Personal information

  • Incorrect or incomplete name, address or phone number
  • Multiple birth dates
  • Wrong social security number
  • Inaccurate employment information

Accounts

  • Unrecognized credit accounts, including revolving (credit cards and HELOCs) and installment accounts (mortgages and loans)
  • Inaccurate status of account, such as a closed account marked as open
  • Incorrect payment history, such as a current account labeled past due
  • Inaccurate account holder status, such as being listed as an authorized user when you’re a primary account holder
  • Incorrect credit limits and balances
  • Unknown utility, phone and streaming accounts (when reported through Experian Boost™)

Inquiries

  • Companies that pulled your credit report without your authorization or knowledge, potentially indicating a fraudster applied for an account in your name

Public records

  • Bankruptcies, liens, foreclosures, civil suits and judgments that you weren’t involved in

Benefits of monitoring your credit report

If you regularly review your credit reports, you’ll become more familiar with your finances and may find ways to improve your credit score. For instance, you may notice you've missed payments more often than you realized. Seeing a high balance on your credit card may motivate you to adjust your spending to lower your utilization rate. Raising your credit score can increase the chances you’ll qualify for the best financial products like credit cards and loans with competitive rates and rewards.

Another benefit of routinely checking your credit reports is that you can take early action against signs of potential fraud and dispute the errors right away. This can save you the hassle of dealing with bigger issues weeks or months after they occur.

In order to make the credit monitoring process easier, consider signing up for a free or paid credit monitoring service, which alerts you of changes to your credit report. Services like CreditWise®, Experian free credit monitoring and IdentityForce® UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit can provide you with an early notice of potential fraud, so you can take steps to protect your personal information.

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To learn more about IdentityForce®, visit their website or call 855-979-1118.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.