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Becoming familiar with your spending habits, debt ratio, and understanding how lenders view your financial snapshot may very well be your best defense against future bankruptcy or foreclosure action. It all begins with fiscal responsibility, supported by a sound credit report, but how many Americans actually request and review their credit report on an annual basis?

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (2003), all American citizens are entitled to request a free annual credit report from each of the three leading credit reporting agencies: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Unfortunately, according to American Trust Escrow, a full-service, licensed and independently owned real estate escrow leader, only 44 million people out of approximately 200 million request and review their credit report each new calendar year.

Establishing an annual credit report review practice, especially if you are planning on purchasing a home, is essential. By doing so, you may find incorrect reporting items or come to the realization that it may not be the opportune time to begin house hunting.

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