Your credit history and score can determine if and on what terms you can get a loan, credit card, apartment, insurance or job. You want to know if your credit report, on which your history and score are based, contains accurate information. Federal law allows you to get a copy of your credit record without having to spend money or subscribe to a service.
Three Free a Year
The Fair Credit Report Act guarantees you one free credit report every 12 months from each of the major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can order from all three at one time or stagger the requests. Getting each report at different times can allow you to better monitor the completeness and accuracy of your credit history and see changes in information placed in your history.
Ordering Your Free Reports
AnnualCreditReport.com is the sole portal for getting the federally guaranteed yearly credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Don't contact each agency directly. Instead, request the reports online through annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228 or send a completed Annual Credit Report request form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can download and print the form from AnnualCreditReport.com to mail it in. You will need your name, current address and full Social Security number. Depending on the bureau, you may also need information, such as prior addresses or payment information, unknown to anyone other than yourself.
Other "Free" Report Sources
Federal law requires only the yearly credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com to be at no cost. Other sites advertising "free credit reports" or "free credit monitoring" may charge you after a trial period. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warn that you may be automatically charged for reports if you do not cancel the service before the trial ends.
A company that denies you a mortgage, credit card, insurance or a job, or lends you money on less favorable terms must notify you if a credit report was the basis for the action. Within 60 days after you get such a notice, you can request and get a free credit report from the credit bureau that furnished the report leading to your denial or other negative action. You're also entitled to a free credit report if you're unemployed and plan to seek a job within 60 days, receiving welfare, the victim of identity theft or have inaccurate information on your credit report. Any of these credit reports are in addition to the three you get from AnnualCreditReport.com each year.
- Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information: Free Credit Reports
- AnnualCreditReport.com: General Questions: Frequently Asked Questions
- Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information: Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Credit Reports and Credit Scores
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: I Got My Free Credit Reports, But They Do Not Include My Credit Scores -- Can I Get My Credit Score for Free Too?
- MyFICO.com: Credit Report Q&A: How Do I Get My Free Credit Report and Score From Each Bureau?
Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.