So now every year (by law) you can get a Free Credit Report from each of the credit report companies (Equifax, Transunion and Experian). They’ve been rolling this out by zones; zone 1 got it earlier this year, 2 (the Midwest) got it today, 3 in June, 4 in September. I did mine today, I did the Transunion one (I had never done that one before). I think I liked the Equifax one the best, it seemed the most complete and understandable (IMHO). The first time I ever did one I had over a dozen open credit cards that should have been closed. The FTC has more info on-line.
There is two ways to do this, get all three at once if you really want to clear things up, or get one every four months to keep an eye on it. Be sure to print it out when you get it, it’s really hard to see the 10+ page report on the display.
They will ask you personal information to determine if you are really you, this includes: SS number, mortgage and loan companies, monthly payments, past addresses, etc. But they do much of it as multiple choice questions (and some answers are ‘none of the above’).
There is no catch but they will try to sell you your score (or other services). If you’ve got wrong info on your report who cares what your score is? Clear up the problems, close the cards you don’t use and get the score the next time around. If you close a few of your cards you can write to all of the companies (Equifax, Transunion and Experian) to close them (and ask that they send you a corrected report they might just send you one for free). Then see how clear the other ones looks the next time around.
I’ve done mine a few times over the past few years and I’ve noticed they’re about 80% the same (they generally don’t list my jobs or previous addresses very completely). If you see you’ve got things wrong you can dispute on-line. Don’t wait to get this, some times it takes ages for things to appear (or disappear), if you ever need your report to look nice you can’t wait until that time.