Credit can play an important role in your life. The information in your credit report impacts lending decisions by financial institutions. Some employers may use your credit data to make a hiring decision. It's imperative that you know what's in your credit report. In 2003, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. This act gives consumers the right to order one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Visit the website established under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act specifically for ordering the free credit reports: annualcreditreport.com. This site will allow you to order all three reports or just one, if you desire.
Choose what state you live in from the drop down menu on the left and click "Request Report."
Fill out the online form completely. You will need to include your personal information, such as name, date of birth, current address and Social Security number. Click "Continue" once you've filled out the form.
Decide which bureau's credit report you want to order first. Choose from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. This site allows you to order all three, but you have to do them one at a time. Click "Next" to continue.
Follow the link to the credit agency's website and fill out the agency's online order form. This form will validate your identity by asking you questions from your credit report that only you should be able to answer. If you're unable to answer the questions, you can't view your report online and instead you will have to order it using either the toll-free number listed on the annualcreditreport.com website, or by printing out the request form and submitting it by mail.
Click the button that reads "Return to annualcreditreport.com" once you've received online access to your credit report. You may now elect to order another report from the two remaining credit agencies. If so, choose which agency you wish to order your report from next and repeat the process outlined in Step 5. Or, if you're done, simply click the "Close" button to close your browser window and exit the system.
If you access your report online, print out a copy for your records. FACTA gives you one free report but if you view it online yet fail to print it, the bureau may charge you a fee to view it again later.
If you request your reports by phone or mail, allow two to three weeks for delivery, according to the annualcreditreport.com website.
Never order your credit report using a public computer. You could become a victim of identity theft if you do.
- If you access your report online, print out a copy for your records. FACTA gives you one free report but if you view it online yet fail to print it, the bureau may charge you a fee to view it again later.
- If you request your reports by phone or mail, allow two to three weeks for delivery, according to the annualcreditreport.com website.
- Never order your credit report using a public computer. You could become a victim of identity theft if you do.
Mack Mitzsheva is a tax lawyer, personal finance expert and the author of the forthcoming ebook, "10 Best Places to Work Online." Mitzsheva is also a social media entrepreneur with five successful sites under her belt. Always innovative, Mitzsheva is currently developing a cutting-edge budgeting app for newlyweds.