The ubiquity of “free” credit reporting services like FreeCreditReport.com, TrueCredit.com, and AnnualCreditReport.com have helped breed a new generation of credit-aware Americans.
Because credit ratings have more importance to everyday life than in years past, this is a welcome development. For example:
- Lenders use credit ratings to determine borrowing rates
- Insurers use credit ratings to determine premiums
- Employers use credit ratings to make hiring decision
Unfortunately for Americans, though, not all credit reports are created equal. And when it comes to actually applying for credit in the form of a new credit card or mortgage, the free reports are worth precisely what they cost.
This is one reason why home buyers should have their credit reviewed by a mortgage lender as soon as possible in the home buying process — the free reports offered by the major credit bureaus may be misleading and incomplete.
Free credit reports are useful for identifying identity theft and reviewing active accounts but do very little to help a potential creditor gauge your creditworthiness.
As the chart shows us, each industry’s creditors has a way they like to do business and that way is the “standard” way.