When was the last time you saw a copy of your credit report?  If it’s been more than a year, then it’s probably time to take another look.

It’s important that you understand the information in your credit report, regardless of your financial situation. This information directly impacts your ability to obtain a credit card, buy a car or home, rent an apartment, or even get a new job. Two of the best reasons for reviewing your credit report today are to make sure your credit report is accurate and protect yourself from fraud or identity theft.

If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there’s a file about you. This file contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy. Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies, more commonly known as credit bureaus. The information credit bureaus sell about you to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses are called consumer reports or credit reports. The three major consumer-reporting agencies in the United States are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.

You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year.  The website where you can obtain the free copy is www.annualcreditreport.com.  You can order all three reports or stagger your order over time.  You can also get a copy of your credit report for a nominal fee through Accel, United Financial Credit Unions financial education and counseling partner.  Once you receive your credit report, an Accel counselor is available to review the report with you.  They will help you understand how to read the report, show you how to dispute inaccurate information, and discuss credit scoring.

As a member of United Financial Credit Union, you can take advantage of the Accel program, a free financial education and counseling program.  Accel counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To use this new service, simply call 1-877-33ACCEL (332-2235) or visit them on the web at www.accelservices.org