The Fair Credit Reporting Law grants you the power to receive a credit report from each credit agency each year for free. The FTC started this rule to allow people access to their personal information. It is helpful to understand how to request free credit reports and take advantage of your legal rights.
What is In a Credit Report
Your credit report incorporates personal information on you and your credit related activity. This includes your past addresses, credit cards and mortgages, and monetary judgments such as a law suit or bankruptcy filing. Credit scores are referred to by lenders, employers, insurance companies, and the like to gauge your likelihood to honor a new debt. It is thus important to confirm that your information does not have any issues.
Obtaining Report Copies
There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Each will maintain somewhat distinct sets of facts. They also tally scores differently. There is a centralized website (annualcreditreport.com) where you can get your credit reports. You may also contact them at 1-877-322-8228 or print and mail the request form found on their website. You must give your name, date of birth, social security number, and one or more addresses to verify your identity.
Other Online Options
There are many additional online resources that extract data from certain credit agencies and keep track of credit activity. They inform you of specific activity in your credit file (such as the credit score being requested or new debts being issued). This will help you understand your score during the year and revealing any acts of fraud.
CreditKarma.com is a website that provides no-cost service and will not even ask you for a credit card. Many other services are publicized as free but actually assess a fee after an initial trial period, so learn about the terms prior to signing up. Also be careful of phony sites that target common mis-typing of urls. These sites may be set up to take your identity.
Summary of How To Request Free Credit Reports
This overview on how to request free credit reports will hopefully get you started. Request a copy of your credit report and analyze it closely. Contact the credit agencies to remove errors. For more complicated issues, consider calling a credit repair specialist for assistance. This blog is intended only as an overview and must not be interpreted as financial advice.