Your FICO score, calculated by information in your credit report, is one of the most valuable tools in your financial arsenal. FICO (named after Fair Issac Corp, the company that pioneered credit scoring) mathematically calculates your late or timely payments and other factors in your credit history into a number that indicates how good a credit risk you would be.
Hundreds of bits of financial information are used in calculating your score and it's important to be certain that some of those factors are not errors or even credit fraud. Therefore, you should check your credit report and FICO score at least once a year and even more frequently if you relocate, change jobs or open new accounts. Quickly correcting any errors that may be in your report is vital to your financial health.
Another, very important, reason to check your credit report is your present and future employers. Checking a job applicant's report has become standard practice in trying to determine if they'd be a good fit with the company. You can see how an error or fraudulent entry in your credit report can make a significant impact on your life!
You can obtain a copy of your credit report and FICO score by either going online or using the postal service. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, the three agencies, offer free copies of your report and FICO score once per year. You will find forms online that you can use to request these reports. Take care, however, that you do not inadvertently get taken in by the many look-alike websites that often imitate these legitimate reporting agencies. The imitators will offer the free reports but in authorizing it, you're actually signing up for a monthly credit reporting service that will charge you a fee. Without you want this type of service, be very careful to read all the agreements and fine print, even on the three legitimate websites.
Checking your credit report and FICO score at least once per year will help insure that you stay financially healthy and maintain your good credit reputation.