I did a responsible adult thing tonight. I checked my credit report for the first time.
This is something that should probably happen more regularly; after all, I can get my credit report from the top three credit bureaus every twelve months for free, meaning I can scatter my reports out throughout the year. But for some reason I could never bring myself to care about my credit or lack thereof. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a credit card and therefore my only form of credit is in the form of student loans, but my credit has never been my highest priority. This could also be because I’m usually quite good with managing my money, credit card or no, and even though credit cards have many perks, there’s something about spending money that is actually yours that is innately satisfying.
(Note: If you live in the U.S., you can also check your credit report for free. Just go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com to get yours for free. Don’t pay for a credit report when you can get one for free. Your credit score is another matter altogether.)
Tonight I checked my Equifax score and left the other two for later. My main priority, if you could call it that, was to make sure no one was dumb enough to steal my identity. The term dumb isn’t used lightly here; my name is Google unique when my first and last name are combined. Throw my middle name in the mix and trust me, no one else is gonna have my name. So potential identity thieves wouldn’t be that bright to take my identity as theirs, but people in that field probably don’t look at commonality of names before diving in. Granted, I know only one person who has definitely had her identity stolen, but her name is very common.
When you go the annual credit report site, you choose which company or companies you would like a credit report from, enter some information to verify your identity like your name, address, a previous address if you moved in the last couple of years, your social security number, date of birth, that kind of thing. Then you’re taken to a series of questions to answer to make sure you’re really the person requesting your credit report. The questions and answers are all taken from your report (which includes your name and addresses any credit accounts you have, stuff like that), so there’s no funny business here. Mine were straightforward, though I’m pretty sure most people who know me really well could have answered at least two of them off the top of their heads, the very dedicated Internet stalker and and those who know me really well could answer three, and my mom could have answered all of them with a little digging on one or two of them to refresh her memory since she was my cosigner for the loan the questions asked about. And if she could, who says others can’t, even if their digging is a little less innocent?
Then you get to your credit report. It’s available almost instantly, and it shows you your accounts and just about everything the credit bureau has on you. Mine was pretty light since my students loans are my only signs of credit, and luckily I didn’t see anything glaringly bad. Hooray!
You can also see every time someone has pulled up your report. There are things called soft pulls and hard pulls, though they’re not worded as such on the credit report. Soft pulls aren’t bad. They happen for just about everything. Hard pulls, from my understanding, are the fun ones. Luckily they should also happen much less often. At least I didn’t have any of those on my report. I saw soft pulls for every single time Discover has pulled up my report before sending me a credit card offer in the mail, one company that keeps sending me preapproved loans with something like 49% APR (yeah, I think I’ll pass), and of course, Equifax, which had to pull up my report. I’m still wondering why AT&T pulled up my report, though. I’ve never associated with them.
If you do spot something wrong with your report, from a duplicate report to a misspelling, you can report it. I didn’t see anything wrong with mine, so I let it be.
In the end, pulling up my report was painless. My identity’s still intact and nothing was really wrong with my report, and that’s all I can ask for, right? Well, maybe a snugglebuddy. Pulling up your credit report on a Friday night is a one-way ticket to Forever Alone Heights.