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credit & debt

3 Simple Steps to Check Your Credit Score

Use these websites to know where your credit stands before you apply for a loan.

Step 1

Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and enter your name, address, birth date and Social Security number to get a free credit report from each of the three monitoring bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Read each report to make sure there are no errors. If there are, file a dispute with the bureau, and contact the lender in question.

Step 2

Sign up for a free account at www.credit.com. You’ll get two measures of your credit score, plus a report card that tells you how you’re doing in five key areas that make up your score.

Step 3

Most lenders use the FICO score (720 or above is considered good), so if you’re in the market for a loan, it makes sense to get that number. Go to www.myfico.com. FICO Standard gives you one bureau’s report and score for $19.95. For an auto loan, one score is probably enough. If you’re applying for a home loan, you might want to ante up for all three: Mortgage lenders typically take the middle of your three scores.

The payoff

You’ll know where you stand before you apply for a loan.

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