Something old, something new, remember to check your credit report, too

Peggy Olive, Extension Financial Capability Specialist
Department of Consumer Science
UW-Madison School of Human Ecology

Extension Credit Report website:


Total Time – 3:35

0:10 – Why check both partner’s credit reports
0:31 – What to look for
1:10 – How often to check credit reports
1:17 – How to get credit reports
2:07 – Best time of year to check credit reports
2:53 – How to sign up for email reminders
3:05 – Other resources on website
3:28 – Lead out


Lorre Kolb: Encouraging couples to check their credit reports together. We’re talking today with Peggy Olive, Extension Financial Capability Specialist at UW-Madison and I’m Lorre Kolb. Peggy why the emphasis on taking time to check both partners credit reports.

Peggy Olive: It’s an important thing to do and I think it was on our mind because we’re approaching kind of that wedding season time of year. And there was a lot of misconceptions and myths when it comes to couples and the credit reports. We thought this was a great opportunity to address some of those.

Lorre Kolb: And what should people look for when they’re looking at credit reports that are not just their own but at their partners credit reports?

Peggy Olive: Well it’s important for individuals to both get their credit report at the same time and then they compare those. Even if a couple is married, they may have and likely will have different credit lines and credit trades that appear separately on each of their individual credit reports. Sometimes couples think when they get married their credit reports can all come together into one report and that doesn’t necessarily happen only when they take out credit together will it appear on both reports.

Lorre Kolb: So how often should people check their credit reports?

Peggy Olive: You can get three free credit reports every year across the three bureaus.

Lorre Kolb: How do you go about checking it is it an online process or do you have to go in and request it?

Peggy Olive: There are a few different ways to request it. It’s very easy to go to the one and only official federally sanctioned place to get your credit report and its and you can order it online. Sometimes people get a little tripped up ordering it online because you have to answer some questions about your past history, maybe it’s a car loan you might have taken out or address you lived at and if you get it wrong or you’ve forgotten about that address, you are kind of booted out of the system and it tells you your reports now available online. And then you have to use one of our other two methods which you could try calling their toll-free number or you can download the form to request that credit report.

Lorre Kolb: What are the best times of year to check your credit report?

Peggy Olive: Anytime of year is a great time to check your credit report at the UW-Madison Division of Extension, we have a check your credit report campaign just to get reminders out there. Anyone can sign up for an email reminder that we’ll send you an email on 2/2, 6/6 or 10/10. No one has to check the reports on that specific date. You can get it anytime of year. You can order all three reports at one time during the year and just be done with it. There is benefit in checking your three reports during the whole year because if something were to pop up – a credit card you never ordered or something goes amiss in your credit report, you’ll be checking on it every four months instead of waiting for an entire year.

Lorre Kolb: And how can you sign up for the e-mail reminders?

Peggy Olive: Google the UW Extension free credit report campaign and right there on the main page it has a sign up for our e-mail reminders.

Lorre Kolb: And are there other resources available on that website?

Peggy Olive: Some great publications that we’ve put together through Extension about credit scores, understanding how your report is translated into a credit score, some guide to reading your credit report, understanding what’s in there, understanding how long different information stays in there. So it has some great publications, handouts that you can find on the website also.

Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Peggy Olive, Extension Financial Capabilities Specialist at UW-Madison and I’m Lorre Kolb.

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