Receiving your free annual credit report is most easily accomplished by going through AnnualCreditReport.com – the central website put together by the Federal Trade Commission and the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The process is simple, whether it is done online, by phone, or through the mail, and does not carry a cost so long as you keep to your once per year maximum. If you need to check your credit more frequently, there are ways to do so that cost you little to no money, either directly through the three credit reporting agencies or through a potential creditor. Here’s how to go about each option.
Equifax provides consumers with a copy of their credit report once per year at no cost through AnnualCreditReport.com, which can be reached directly from the Equifax website. If you want to view your credit report more often than once every 12 months, the credit reporting agency allows you to do so for the following reasons:
Each of these ancillary credit reports is available at no cost depending on your personal circumstances and may be limited in how frequently they can be accessed. In addition to free credit report requests, you can sign up for a monthly subscription to Equifax to review your credit report at any time for a small fee, or you may pay a one-time fee to access both your credit report and score through the company’s website. Should you have questions about accessing your credit report, you can call Equifax directly at 1-866-349-5191.
Similar to Equifax, you may request your free credit report from TransUnion once every 12 months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. However, you may also access your credit report by signing up for TrueIdentity offered by TransUnion. TrueIdentity is a credit monitoring product that provides real-time alerts when significant changes have been made to your credit report, such as a new credit account or hard inquiry. The monitoring service is available through simple online signup that does not require a credit card, carries no cost, and offers unlimited credit report refreshes for as long as you are signed up. TransUnion also offers a monthly paid subscription that allows you to view your credit report and score whenever you’d like. If you would like to speak to a representative with TransUnion regarding access to your credit report, you may do so by calling 1-800-916-8800.
AnnualCreditReport.com also provides free access to your Experian credit report once per year, but you can receive additional access to your updated credit report through Experian.com. Through each of the websites, users can signup for access with a simple online form, and credit reports are refreshed every 30 days. No credit card is required to signup, and data like negative information about payment history, active and dormant accounts, and hard inquiries are all listed on the no-cost credit report. The service does not offer free access to your credit score, however. Just like Equifax and TransUnion, Experian offers a paid subscription product that provides access to your report and score at any time. Should you need to speak with someone at Experian about your credit report, you may do so by calling 1-888-397-3742.
Above and beyond your free credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, you are also entitled to request a copy of your credit report at no cost when your credit information has been used by a potential lender, insurer, or employer. If you were denied for credit, insurance, or employment and your credit report was used to make the decision, you can request a copy of the credit report accessed by the creditor within 60 days of receiving notification of the denial. Within your notification, the creditor should include information on how to request a copy of your credit report.
If you need access to your credit report more than once per year, you can tap into one or all of the methods listed above to do so. Each credit reporting agency offers a variety of products that provide you access for a small fee, but they also have options for retrieving your credit report at no cost through the methods listed. It is important to periodically check your credit report to ensure the details of your financial life are accurate and up to date and to take the steps necessary to correct errors in a timely fashion if they arise.
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