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credit & debt

Get Free Credit Report Updates

Here's how to keep tabs on your credit history so that you can spot any errors.

Keeping tabs on your credit report is a personal finance no-brainer. But you don’t need to enroll in a credit-monitoring service that charges $15 or more a month. After all, you can order a free report yearly from each of the major credit-reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.

A couple of services, however, will send you updates from the credit bureaus free. Sign up for credit monitoring with Credit Sesame, and the site will track data on your Experian report daily. If anything suspicious pops up—say, an address change, a new account or a credit inquiry—Credit Sesame will send you an e-mail alert. (You need to sign up for alerts; notifications also appear on your account page on the site.) Credit Karma has a similar tool that provides free daily monitoring of your TransUnion report.

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Getting an instant heads-up that there’s been a change in your report could help you fix errors quickly, catch an identity thief at work or get on top of a potentially delinquent account. To dispute an error in your report, contact the credit bureau directly.

If you notice a problem in one report, check reports from the other two bureaus as well. Use AnnualCreditReport.com to get free reports if you haven’t ordered them within the past year. Under federal law, bureaus must also provide you with a free report if you think it contains an error as a result of fraud. If you don’t meet the requirements to get a report free, you can purchase it. The three bureaus charge from $10 to $11.50 for reports from their sites. Credit Sesame sells the Experian credit report for $9.

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