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How to Get Your Annual Free Credit Report

by David Sung

When it comes to requesting a free credit report, it’s easy to confuse fact with fiction especially when you have to wade through companies advertising “free” credit reports. Credit report companies are known to take advantage of uninformed consumers, often resulting in customers becoming trapped in monthly fees. What customers don’t know is that there is such a thing as a completely free credit report that can be administered by the government every 12 months.

Where Do I Go to Get a Completely Free Credit Report? 

Companies offering free credit reports often promote it as a free service, but then don’t deliver as promised. The only way to get an authorized, free credit report is to go through Annual Credit Report. This website is funded by The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA), which requires each nationwide consumer company to provide a free credit report by request every 12 months.

The FCRA acts as the nation’s consumer protection agency and legally requires that citizens receive a free credit report, but only through the provided website. Requests can be filed in one of three ways:

  1. Online: Go to Annual Credit Report and fill out their user friendly request form for instant results.
  2. Phone: Dial (877) 322-8228
  3. Mail: Fill out the Annual Credit Report Request form, and mail it to*:
     Annual Credit Report Request Service
     P.O. Box 105281
     Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

*Request may take up to 15 business days

Why get a credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com?

Once contacted, customers can require that their credit report be pulled from one or all three nationwide consumer reporting companies:  Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Requesting a report from AnnualCreditReport.com is the only way to guarantee that you receive a completely free credit report.  It is important to know that if customers contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion individually, then the companies are not required by the FCRA to provide you a free report.

Once you pull a credit report from Annual Credit Report, you are given the choice to pull a report from all three companies at once, resulting in three different credit reports. Or you may pull a single credit report from one company every few months, essentially allowing up to three separate credit reports within the given time span.

What will be required to request a credit report?

When requesting a credit report, you will be required to fill out information such as your full name, address, Social Security number, birthday, employer and job position. If you have moved within the last two years, then you may be asked to provide a previous address. Additional personal information may be required depending on the company you requested the report from to ensure customer’s identity.

What information will the credit report contain?

All credit reports will list your name, address, how you pay your bills, if you pay on time, if you have ever been sued or arrested, or ever filed for bankruptcy. All this information will be calculated to give you a credit score.

Why should I request a free credit report?

There are several reasons why a credit report must be checked on an annual basis to determine your credit score:

  • Check for accuracy- Each credit report will have personal information.  You should check to make sure all the information is correct, complete and up to date.
  • Bank Loan Acceptance- Credit reports can be pulled for loan purposes for a car or house, as the credit score received through the report helps a bank determine how likely you are to default on a loan. The higher the credit score, the less risk you pose for not paying back a loan. Also, credit reports can be pulled by insurance companies when buying new insurance and employers may require it when applying for a job.
  • Guard against theft- Identity theft can be determined by checking the history of your credit reports.  If something seems off like an unknown loan showing up on the report, then you may be a victim of identity theft. Therefore, it is important that this incident is caught and corrected to prevent future complications.

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