Many physicians feel as though they just don’t have the time to regularly monitor their credit report. Although identity protection firms can keep an eye on your credit for a fee, you can also check on your own for free; you just have to know where to look.

Three credit bureaus produce credit reports: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They each offer paid services that send you your credit scores on a regular basis. Now, a credit score is different from your credit report. The score is the number given to you because of the activity on your credit report. Getting your credit score can be handy, because if it is unexpectedly low, you can obtain your credit report to see if there are any discrepancies or errors.

According to USA.gov, you should obtain your credit report once a year to review it. They recommend using AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain a free annual report from each of the credit-reporting agencies. If you are interested in getting your credit score for high-level monitoring, you should know that banks and credit card providers, such as Bank of America and American Express, have free credit score services. You may need to be a customer to access this service, but it is worth looking into, as some offer free updates every week.

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Physician investors can be hesitant to check their credit report or score because they have heard that running a credit check can hurt them. According to Forbes.com, a hard credit check is when you apply for a loan or a new credit card and a potential creditor checks your credit score to see if you will be a responsible borrower. A hard credit check will affect your credit score, because it shows that you are trying to extend your debt capacity. It will stay on your credit report for 2 years but will only affect your credit score for 1 year.

A soft inquiry, like checking your credit score, has no impact. You, therefore, are not penalized for monitoring your credit score.

Checking your credit score and credit report is vital to maintaining your financial health. Furthermore, uncovering potential fraud or incorrect information on your credit report can help you start the process of fixing it, so that you can be ready for the next time you need to apply for a loan. This will save you time, money, and headaches.