Checking your credit report periodically is a smart way to stay on top of your bigger financial picture. Your credit report details personal information, such as your name, date of birth, previous and current addresses, and employers, but more importantly, it lists out all of your credit history. Credit accounts, such as credit cards, auto and personal loans, mortgages, and student loans, bankruptcies, collection accounts, and public records are also included in each individual credit report. When information on your credit report is incorrect or out of date, it can hurt your chances for getting affordable credit in the future.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, all consumers are entitled to receive a copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. That includes detailed information from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It is important to check your credit reports from each of the credit reporting agencies to ensure the accuracy of your financial history because the credit bureaus do not share information directly with each other meaning one report may have data not included on the other two. Here is how to receive your free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion have come together to make it easy to obtain your free annual credit report. Through this centralized website, you can fill out a relatively simple form to request your credit report from one, two, or all three of the credit reporting agencies once every 12 months. To request a copy of your free credit report, you input the following information:
Once you’ve completed the online form, you are then asked which reports you would like to receive. Because you are only entitled to one free credit report per 12 months, it may be beneficial to request one at a time instead of all three at once. Staggering your credit report requests gives you the opportunity to review your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies every four months (three times per year), as opposed to once every year.
After you’ve selected which report(s) you want to receive, you will be asked to verify your identity. A series of questions regarding your previous accounts, addresses, or employment may be asked to complete this step. After verifying, you will be able to view your credit report on your computer as a secure file. However, some times you won’t have immediate access to all three of your reports because one of the companies may need additional information to verify your identity. In that case you will be asked to print out a form and mail it in to receive your credit report by mail from each company that was not able to verify your identity.
If you’d like to request your free credit report without using the online platform, you may do so by phone or through U.S. mail. You may call 1-877-322-8228 to request your free credit report copy after you verify your identity by providing your full name, date of birth, address, and social security number. If you wish to request your credit report by mail, you must print out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to the following address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
1 (877) 322-8228
If you make a request for your credit report over the phone, the report(s) you asked for will be mailed to you within 15 business days. Similarly, once a mailed credit report request is received at the processing center, you can expect to receive your report within 15 business days. If additional information is required to verify your identity, receiving your credit report copies may take longer.
The simplest way to retrieve your free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies is to submit your request online. Once your identity is verified, you receive your credit report immediately and can review and quickly save it as needed. Requesting your credit report over the phone or by mail are alternatives to the online process, and while they take a bit longer to process, are just as efficient as making your request online.
It should be noted that you are are entitled to your free credit report from each of the credit bureaus each year, but not your credit score. If you also need to obtain your credit score you can pay each of the three major credit bureaus or use these alternative resources to get your credit score for free.
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