Monitoring Your Credit History


Learn About Credit HistoryDon't know your credit history from your credit score? You need the quick and dirty do-it-yourself (DIY) guide to credit monitoring. Take a look at this short instruction guide, and discover how your credit score affects your credit report and credit history record.

Your credit history record: DIY basic info

  • Credit history: Your credit history is the record of how you handle debt. As you take out credit cards and obtain loans, you establish patterns of behavior that tell creditors how trustworthy you are in financial matters. Although credit cards and loans are two major sources of credit history information, other factors, such as your ability to pay bills on time, can improve or harm your credit history record.

  • Credit reports: Three companies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, are recognized nationwide as the primary sources of credit information. A credit report is an accounting of your credit history record from one or more of the national credit reporting bureaus. You're entitled to a free credit report every twelve months from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies.

  • Credit scores: Your credit score is your credit history's ranking, generated by proprietary formulae specific to each credit reporting agency, as well as to Fair Isaac, which created the FICO® score that's considered the industry standard. The three major reporting agencies developed these credit score scales to give lenders a standard set of numbers for use in evaluating credit-worthiness. Because your credit score will vary from credit agency to credit agency, banks and other lenders will average your credit score.

Your credit history record: Getting a credit report

You have a right to see your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission guarantees your ability to get a free credit report once a year. All you have to do if you want to get a credit history report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies is visit

However, for DIY credit monitoring purposes, a credit report pulled once per year may not be quite enough.

Your credit history record: Early identity theft warning?

In the Internet age, a lack of understanding about how to monitor your credit history can have some very nasty consequences. Today's identity thieves work quietly behind the scenes. They can rack up a frightening amount of damages before you ever get a call from a credit card company. If you monitor you credit history regularly, you can spot new accounts and other suspicious activity before you get burned.

  • Check your credit history on a monthly basis.
  • Watch for new accounts and other charges that you did not initiate.

Only you can protect your credit history. Services are available to keep you informed of new accounts opened in your name, to enable you to track charges to existing accounts, and to keep you in the loop about your credit history. Being informed is the first step; all you have to do is take it.


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