Bursting the Credit Score myths: Checking can hurt your score


Here is another credit score myth that's overripe for a bust.

Contrary to popular belief, you can not hurt your credit score when you ask to seek a copy of it...as long as you do it yourself and don't ask a friend at a financial institution to do it for you. When a bank or other financial institution requests a credit report, it is usually tracked as a "hard" inquiry, which prompts the credit reporting agency to presume you've made an application for a new credit card or another kind of loan. That's when it hurts your credit score.

When you request a copy yourself, it's considered a "soft" inquiry and does not impact your score at all. Many websites and TV ads advertise free credit reports, but they are not really free. What you're really signing up for is a subscription to a credit reporting service that you'll end up paying monthly, quarterly or yearly.

If you really want a free copy of your credit report, you are entitled to one free copy a year from each of the three top credit reporting agencies. Request it through this site.

You definitely should check your credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies yearly to be sure no one is using your good credit name, and to be sure all your credit accounts are being reported accurately.

Lita Epstein has written more than 20 books including the Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score.