Insider experts choose the best products and services to help you make informed decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.
If you’ve ever had a credit card or taken out a loan, you have a credit history.
Your credit file is your financial report card. It lists the loans and credit cards you have or have had in the past, how much money you owe on each, and whether you paid those bills on time or late.
All of these factors and more make up your credit score, a three-digit number between 300 and 850 that indicates how risky a borrower you are (according to academic theme, this would be your grade point average cumulative).
When you apply for a new loan, credit card, or credit limit increase, the lender will review your credit report. It’s important to check your report several times a year to make sure the information is accurate. If something goes wrong, you could be a victim of identity theft.
How to get your free credit report
Although your credit score is readily available from several sources, including financial institutions, lenders, and third-party credit monitoring services, you will need to do a little more work on your credit report. You are generally limited to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Until the end of 2023, you are allowed to get these credit reports every week due to the pandemic.
1. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228
You can only request your credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling the verified phone number 1-877-322-8228. If another source claims to have your credit report in exchange for personal information, it is likely fraud. When you visit the website, check that you are on the right page. Fraudulent websites will try to dress up their pages to make them look legitimate.
2. Complete the online submission form
If you apply through the website, you will need to complete a submission form whether you want one, two, or all three credit reports assigned to you. The form will ask for your name; your current address; your last address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years; and your social security number.
The next page allows you to select the credit bureaus from which you wish to obtain reports. The bureaus receive information about our credit card histories from creditors, but they do not all have the same information, which may result in slight variations in each person’s recorded credit history.
It is recommended to review all three throughout the year; you can even set calendar reminders to request one every four months. However, if you’re about to buy a house or make another major purchase that requires a credit check, you might want to request all three reports at once to verify accuracy, since you don’t know which bureau the lender will be inspired. .
Before you can view your report, you will need to answer three or four multiple-choice questions to verify your identity. The information in these questions is taken from your credit report. They are designed to be tricky (sometimes the correct answer is “none of the above answers”). You only have five minutes to answer the questions.
If you are requesting a report from more than one credit bureau, you will need to complete this step for each one.
3. Review your report
The site will produce your credit report in seconds. If you request your report by telephone, it will be sent by post and could take up to 15 days to arrive.
The report is divided into five sections:
- Personal information: Your name, past and current addresses, year of birth and phone numbers.
- Accounts: This is where you’ll find the full history of every line of credit you have or have had in the past – current balance, date opened, account status, highest balance, payment minimum, credit limit, etc.
- Public records: If you have been involved in legal matters, filed for bankruptcy, or suffered a tax lien, it will be listed here.
- Difficult requests: If you have applied for a new credit card or loan within the past two years, the lender’s name will appear here along with the date of application and the expected expiration date.
- Flexible requests: If an employer, landlord, insurance company, or credit card lender has ever made an informal inquiry into your credit, it will appear here. Informal inquiries do not affect your credit score and are therefore not contestable. Informal inquiries also don’t show up on the credit reports lenders get when they make a serious inquiry.
4. If something is wrong, file a dispute
If any of the details, like a date, balance, or payment appear to be incorrect — or there’s an account that’s entirely unrecognizable — you can file a dispute directly from the online report or by calling the helpline from the credit bureau.
Again, all three credit bureaus will give you your report for free once a year, but all three bureaus offer paid identity monitoring services, if desired. Services from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax include unlimited credit reports, email alerts when someone applies for credit on your behalf, and identity theft insurance.
5. Print or save a copy for your records
Since your credit report is only available a few times a year, you can either print a copy or save a PDF version for your records. If your session expires before you do this, you will have to wait until the next time your credit report is available.
Additional Free Credit Reports
There are other situations where you can get a free credit report.
If your application is denied or you encounter another “adverse action” notice, you are entitled to a free credit report from the bureau that the lender used to review your credit. You must request this credit report within 60 days of the initial rejection notice. Other adverse actions include denial of insurance or employment as a result of information on your credit report.
You can also request a credit report if you suspect you will be or have been the victim of identity theft. If you place an initial fraud alert on your credit, you may receive a free credit report from each bureau in addition to the free annual reports you usually receive. An initial fraud alert requires the credit bureaus to take steps to confirm your identity when they receive an application to open a new line of credit. These last for one year, at which time you can place another alert on your credit.
In addition to all these free reports, you can also sign up for a credit monitoring service. Services that go through credit bureaus will give you access to additional credit reports, such as myEquifax, which offers six free credit reports per year, or Experian Boost, which offers a free credit report every 30 days. Other services may not give you direct access to your credit reports, but will notify you of any changes in your credit report.
There are plenty of free credit report resources you can take advantage of. If you’re spending money to check your credit report, you’re doing something wrong.
#credit #report #free #steps