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How to check your credit report for free, without hurting your credit score

Free credit reports are "soft" inquiries, and they won't hurt your score, experts say.  Reports you pay for will contain more details.

Getting a credit report doesn't have to ding

Getting a credit report doesn't have to ding your credit score, experts say. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto

What is it about credit reports that makes some people avoid them like the plague?

According to a new survey from CreditCards.com, 50 percent of the more than 1,100 people polled didn’t check either their credit score or their credit report in the last six months. This is surprising given the Equifax data breach and financial advice from many quarters to check to be sure you weren’t impacted.

What gives? It can’t be about money. There are ways to get a free credit report. So if that’s what’s been keeping you from knowing your numbers, you’re out of excuses.

“Go to annualcreditreport.com and get annual reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  You can also call each of the credit reporting agencies. You’ll pay extra for your credit score,” says Kevin Mallon, an attorney with Mallon Consumer Law Group in Manhattan.

What do you get for free? "All the information in your consumer report, like current and past financial accounts, demographic and employment information,” says Robert Föehl, executive-in-residence for business law and ethics at Ohio University in Athens.

Tap technology: “Many bank apps, like the Discover banking app, provide free FICO credit scores,” says Melville financial attorney Leslie Tayne.

Is it worth paying for your credit score? “With a credit score you pay for, you may get more details, like what creditors you owe money to, current balances, payment history, and any judgments you may have,” Tayne says.

Will I be penalized for checking my credit score often? No. Says Tayne, “Check as often as you please.  Free credit scores don’t impact your credit; they’re a soft inquiry which won’t affect your credit.”

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