Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act you are entitled to access your credit report for free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You are entitled to one free report from each company per year. There are hundreds of websites and services out there that claim to offer "free" credit reports and scores, but they have conditions such as entering credit card information or signing up for a "30 day trial offer". Many of these sites do offer helpful services, such as providing credit monitoring and score information. However, it can be frustrating for consumers who think that they are signing up for the free service. There are currently three ways to access your free credit report: online, by phone or by mail.
Request Your Free Credit Report Online
Locate a computer with an Internet connection and a printer. If you do not have a personal computer in your home, ask to use a friend's or family member's computer or go to your local public library where they have computers for public use.
Go to the Annual Credit Report website. A link to this site is located in the "Resources" section below. Click on the link and you will be taken directly to the site. This is the only website that is supported by the federal government to provide free credit reports.
Once you are on the site, you will see an option that states "Start here to view and print your credit report now." Choose your state from the drop down menu and click on the "Request Report" button.
Fill out the information requested on the form. You will need to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, current address and your previous address if you have lived at your current address for two years or less. Click the "Continue" button at the bottom of the page once your information is complete.
You will be asked to enter information regarding loan or credit information to verify your identity. For example, you may be asked to provide how much you pay each month for your car loan. Complete your verification answers and click the "continue" button at the bottom of the page. Choose one of the three credit reporting agencies to receive your report from. Making a selection will take you to your credit report. It is advisable that you print out your report and keep a copy for your records.
Request Your Free Credit Report by Phone
Call the Annual Credit Report Request Service at 1-877-322-8228 to order a copy of your credit report.
Provide requested personal information such as your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, current address and a former address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years. You will also be asked to answer one or more questions regarding your finances in order to verify your identity.
Receive your free credit report in the mail to your current address within 2 to 3 weeks.
Request Your Free Credit Report by Mail
Download the free credit report "Request Form" from the Annual Credit Report website. A link to the page where the Request Form can be downloaded from is located in the "Resources" section below. Download the form by clicking "Request Form" link under the "To Request your Credit Report by Mail" heading. A dialog box will pop-up asking if you would like to "Save" or "Cancel" the form. Click on the "Save" option. This will cause the form to download and save on your computer. The form should open automatically once the download is complete.
Print and fill out the form. You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, current address and a previous address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years. You will also have the option to choose which credit reporting agency you wish to receive your report from. Shade in the circle next to your chosen credit reporting agency.
Mail your completed credit report request form to the following address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You will receive your free credit report by mail within 2 to 3 weeks.
- credit card image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com