I’m sure you’ve seen one of those television commercials claiming to give you a free credit report.
Only that most of those are anything but free.
Sure, you can get a free copy of your credit report, but only after enrolling in some credit monitoring service that comes along with a monthly fee.
But you don’t have to enroll in these services to get a copy of your report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.
Learn how to get your free credit report:
- Getting a free copy of your credit report is now easier than ever. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to order your free copy from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This is the official website for your free reports. You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.
- Contacting the credit reporting companies. You can also find contact information, including a toll-free number and the address to use if you prefer regular mail to request your report, at annualcreditreport.com.
Apart from your free, annual credit report, there are other situations in which you may be entitled to an additional free report:
- A business takes any of the following actions against you based in part or in whole on information in your credit report:
- Denies you a loan or credit
- Denies you insurance coverage
- Refuses to hire you
- You can also get one additional free report per year in these circumstances:
- You’re unemployed and you plan to look for work within the next 60 days.
- You’re on welfare.
- Your credit report is inaccurate because of fraud or identity theft.
If you don’t meet any of these criteria, you can still get a copy of your credit report for a reasonable fee.
You’ll be asked to provide the following information in order to get your free report:
- Name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number
- Your previous address if you’ve moved in the last two years
- For security purposes, you may also be asked a few questions that only you would know the answer to. For example, you could be asked something like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.
Does it Matter to Check Your Credit Report Regularly?
You bet it does. Your credit report includes important information about you and how you handle your financial obligations. It even includes information about whether you’ve been sued or if you’ve filed for bankruptcy.
This information is used by some employers to make a decision whether to hire you for a job.
It’s also used by insurance companies to decide if they want to issue you a policy and what rate your premium will be.
Information in your credit report is even used by landlords to decide if they want to rent a house or apartment to you.
So the information in your credit report is used for far more than deciding on an interest rate in a loan offer.
For your own peace of mind and security, check your report:
- Check that your report is correct. Mistakes happen, and if there’s a mistake on your credit report, you’ll want to get it cleared up as quickly as possible.
- Avoid paying higher interest rates, being denied credit, or having issues with getting insurance, employment, or a place to live due to an error.
- Check for identity theft. The incidents of identity theft are on the rise. Regularly checking your credit report can also help you discover if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
- If you check your report and find accounts that you didn’t open, you can report that to the police and get those accounts removed from your credit report.
The law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report every year and it’s a good idea to take advantage of that. It’s vital that all of your credit information being reported is accurate and up-to-date.
Get your report today – it’s free!