How To Get Your Free Credit Report
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act), requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide individuals with a free copy of their credit report, upon request, once every 12 months. The three companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which persons can order a free credit report.
Requesting the free annual credit report
The report can be requested online, by phone or by mail. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
How often can consumers request a free credit report through this website?
You are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – through the central source.
Should consumers order all their credit reports at one time or space them out over 12 months?
It is entirely your choice whether you order all three credit reports at the same time or order one now and others later. The advantage of ordering all three at the same time is that you can compare them. (However, you will not be eligible for another free credit report from the central source for 12 months.) On the other hand, the advantage of ordering one now and others later (for example, one credit report every four months) is that you can keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report. If you order from only one company today you can still order from the other two companies at a later date.
Consumer alert -- Beware of ads claiming "free" credit reports
Many other websites claim to offer “free credit reports, free credit scores, or free credit monitoring.” But, be careful. Their claims of "free" are not always no cost. These sites are not part of the official, government-mandated annual free credit report program. In most cases, these sites will provide you with a free credit report and score, but they will attempt to enroll you in some type of credit monitoring or protection service. Before enrolling for such a service, do your research and determine if it something that you really want or need. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering a free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by misleading TV ads, e-mail offers, or online search results.
Other situations which warrant getting a free credit report
Under federal law, you may be entitled to a free credit report if a company takes “adverse action” against you such as denying an application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in the report. In addition, other circumstances include persons unemployed, persons living on welfare, and any report of fraud (including identity theft).
Is it important to review your credit report frequently (at least once a year)?
Yes, absolutely! The information in a person’s credit report is used to evaluate applications for credit, loans, insurance, and employment. Therefore, making sure that your information on your credit report is accurate and up-to-date is very important.