Most of us have seen TV and online advertisements for a free credit report. They appear to be legit and then when you go to signup, you have to submit your payment information. The good thing is, there really is a way to obtain your credit reports for free. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the three main credit bureaus to provide you a free copy of their report in certain circumstances. At a minimum, you can get one copy for free each year upon request.
To get your free, annual credit report:
- Visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free copy of your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This is the official website for your free reports.
- Contact the credit reporting companies. You can also find contact information, including a toll-free number and the address to use if you prefer regular mail to request your report, at annualcreditreport.com.
There are some situations in which you may be entitled to an additional free copy:
1. A company takes any of the following actions against you based on information in your credit report:
- Denies a loan or credit
- Denies insurance coverage
- Denies employment
2. You can also get one additional free report if the following circumstances apply:
- You are unemployed and you plan to look for work within the next 60 days.
- You are on welfare.
- Your credit report is inaccurate due to fraud or identity theft.
You’ll be asked to provide the following information in order to get your free report:
- Name, address, date of birth, and social security number
- Your previous address if you’ve moved in the last two years
- For security purposes, you may also be asked a few questions that only you would know the answer to. For example, you could be asked something like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.
Why is it important to obtain and review your credit reports on a regular basis?
Your credit report contains information that is meant to portray how you handle your financial obligations. This also includes public record information such as whether or not you have been sued or filed for bankruptcy. This information may be used by various recipients such as credit issuers, insurance companies, employers, and landlords.
So the information in your credit report is used for far more than deciding on an interest rate in a loan offer.
Check your report regularly to:
- Ensure everything is accurate. Data furnishers have an obligation to report complete and accurate information on your credit reports. If something is reporting inaccurately, incompletely, or in error, you will want to get it cleared up as quickly as possible.
- Check for identity theft. The incidents of identity theft are on the rise. Regularly checking your credit report can also help you discover if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. File a police report to report the identity theft and then contact the credit bureaus to notify them and request those accounts are removed from your credit reports.
By law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every year and it’s a good idea to take advantage of that. It’s vital that all of your credit information being reported is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Get your report today – it’s free!