Monitoring Credit Reports and Getting Them for Free
To obtain your free credit report, you can visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the major nationwide credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required to give you a free copy of your credit report when you request it, once every year. The FCRA promotes both the accuracy and privacy of information within the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies, and the Federal Trade Commission (or FTC)—which is the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA when it comes to credit reporting companies
So what’s actually in a credit report? It has information on where you live, how you pay bills, and whether or not you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Credit reporting companies sell that information to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it in order to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or home rental.
So now, let’s look at some questions and answers regarding Free Credit Reports:
Q. How do I order my free report?
You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 10-877-322-8228 to get your free report. You may also complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You can also order reports from each of the three reporting companies at the same time, or you may order one at a time. However, you may only order one free copy of your report from each nationwide crediting company every 12 months.
It is also important be aware of Imposter sites, as any other sites that claim to offer free credit reports, scores, or monitoring are not part of the legal, mandated free annual credit report program. Some may use terms like “free report” in their names, or purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hopes you’ll mistype the name of the official site. Some of these sites my direct you to other places that will try to sell you things or collect personal information. However, the official www.annualcreditreport.com and the national credit reporting companies will not send you emails asking for personal info. If you get an email, pop-up ad, or phone call from someone who claims to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three credit reporting companies, do not click on or reply to anything. Instead, forward the email to the FTC at email@example.com. However, you should be aware that even the free credit report sites may have offers for “extra monitoring or protection.” Be aware of this, and only get those services if you truly want them; keep in mind that you are entitled to your free annual report without any purchase of additional services.
Q. What information do I need to give to receive my free report?
You will need to give your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. If you recently moved within the last two years, you may need to give your previous address too. To keep your file secure, each company may ask for some information only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment, former addresses, etc., Each company may ask something different, because the information each has in your file may be from different sources.
Q. Why do I want a copy of my credit report?
Your credit report contains information that affects whether or not you can get a loan—and how much you’ll need to pay to borrow money. You’ll want a copy of your credit report to:
- Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a big purchase, like a house or car, purchase insurance, or apply for a job.
- Help guard against identity theft.
While these are only a couple of the questions you may have regarding how to obtain your free credit report, you can see others, (as well as the source of information for this article) by going to www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.
Keep in mind that many credit card companies now provide credit score updates free of charge to their customers. This can be a great way to monitor your credit score and ensure that nothing out of the ordinary is going on with it.