How to Obtain a Free Credit Report
Every new year, over fifty percent of Americans make resolutions to lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, stress less, etc. But how about something that could be beneficial to your financial health? By obtaining a copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies, you can view information that affects whether or not you will qualify for a loan and how much interest you will have to pay to borrow money. You can also help guard against identity theft and search for and correct inaccuracies as the information presented can affect your ability to obtain insurance, qualify for a loan or even gain employment.
Did we mention that these reports can be obtained for FREE?
The credit reporting system is used by lenders to decide whether or not to approve a loan, the interest rate and length of the term. Your credit report is based on your bill and loan payment history, loans that you have paid off and existing but unused credit. In addition, a credit report may contain information on where you work and live and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. This information can be accessed by creditors, employers, insurers, and others.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires all three reporting companies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax) provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. This requirement is not only so that consumers are made aware of what their credit report contains but it also promotes accuracy and privacy of information. In order to obtain these reports, you simply have to ask!
There are several ways which you can do this:
- Visit annualcreditreport.com and instantly obtain the credit reports from each of the reporting companies. This process takes approximately 30 minutes. You will be required to prove your identity by providing your full social security number and by answering questions about your past that only you would know.
- Call 1-877-322-8228 and provide your contact information, home telephone number or mobile phone number. You will also be asked which reports you would like to obtain. Make sure you list the three agencies, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Once you have provided information to prove your identity, your reports will be mailed within 15 days. However, you should allow 2 to 3 weeks for delivery.
- Complete an Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to the Annual Credit Report Request Service at the address listed on the form. Once you complete all of the information and mail the form, your reports should be processed and mailed to you within 15 days. Again, allow 2 to 3 weeks for delivery. Keep in mind that if you omit any information, your report may be delayed.
Do not contact the companies individually. If you do, you will be required to pay for your reports. The free annual credit reports are only available without charge by obtaining them using the methods described above.
When you receive your reports, you should very carefully review the information contained and make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. If it is not, the report will provide you with instructions to dispute the information that is inaccurate.
So, go ahead and make your resolutions to lose weight and stop smoking, but also help yourself by making a resolution to obtain your free credit reports at the start of each year!