I hate to admit it, but it’s been awhile since I’ve checked my credit report. Normally, I check my credit report three or four times a year. However, I’ve been a little lax recently. I don’t need new credit, and I’ve just not thought about it much. I’m about to rectify that, though. It’s important to check your credit report regularly. Here are 3 reasons to keep track of what’s in your credit file:

1. Check for Fraudulent Accounts

One of the most important reasons to check your credit report regularly is to identify fraudulent accounts. If your identity has been stolen, and someone has used your good name to open a credit account, it will show up in your credit file. Check your credit report for fraudulent accounts, and then contact the creditor in order to have the accounts closed. You might also consider getting a credit freeze for your credit report. This would prevent anyone else opening up an account in your name, and indicate to lenders that your identity has been stolen.

2. Look for Areas of Improvement Ahead of a Loan Application

When you apply for a loan, your credit report will be checked. Rather than wait for an unpleasant surprise, you should check your credit ahead of time. Pull your own credit report so that you can see where there might be problem areas. This can be especially helpful if you plan to make a major purchase, such as a home or a car, with a loan. You might be able to hold off on applying for the loan until you make improvements to your credit situation.

3. Fix Mistakes on Your Credit Report

Sometimes, information on your credit report is just wrong. A loan might be reported twice, or there might be some other error. In some cases, this can result in a lower credit score. Checking your credit report can give you the chance to review the situation, and contact the credit bureaus to fix mistakes. You son’t want a mistake to cost you the best deal on your loan.

Getting a Copy of Your Credit Report

You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the major credit bureaus. You can exercise this right by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also pay for copies of your report from various sources, including the three bureaus, myFICO.com, and various credit report web sites.