Credit report

How to Get a Free Credit Report in 5 Easy Steps – Forbes Advisor

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Checking your credit report, a financial report that includes information about your credit accounts, can help you maintain or improve your credit and spot signs of identity theft. If you want to view your credit reports for free, use AnnualCreditReport.com.

Normally, federal law allows you to use this website to request one free copy of your credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, due to Covid-19, you can use it to get free weekly credit reports from every credit reporting agency until April 20, 2022.

We’ll teach you how to use the website and what to look for when reviewing your credit reports.

1. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com

Start by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit report. Make sure you are visiting the right website by typing the address into your browser’s search bar or clicking on a link from a trusted website to avoid attempts to steal your personal information. Here’s what it looks like:

2. Enter your personal information

Once you’re on the right website, click the button at the top of the page or bottom left that says, “Request your free credit reports.” Then click on the button with the same words under the line that says “Fill out a form”. Finally, complete the form by entering your name, date of birth, current address, and social security number (SSN).

If you have not lived at your current address for at least two years, you will also need to enter your previous address.

3. Ask for credit reports and answer all security questions

After completing the form, you can request your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. You will likely be asked to answer some security questions to verify your identity. For example, you may be asked for your date of birth or information about past accounts you may have had. Additionally, you may be asked to provide your phone number to receive a one-time password.

4. Generate your report online

Once you access your credit reports, download them to your computer or print them out before heading out the window for later review.

If you’re having trouble requesting a copy of your credit reports online, you can also request to receive a free copy by mail or phone. To receive a free copy by mail, complete the application form by mail and send it to this address:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
Box 105281
Atlanta, Georgia 303348-5281

The form asks you the same questions as the online form.

If you prefer to call instead, dial 877-322-8228.

5. Review your report and dispute any errors

Reading your credit report is one of the most vital steps when it comes to establishing and maintaining credit. When reviewing your report, make sure your personal and account information is accurate.

Common credit report errors to look for include the following:

  • Incorrect name or address
  • Paid accounts listed as open
  • Account balance or credit limit errors
  • Accounts that don’t belong to you

If you spot an error, dispute it with each credit bureau that indicates it on your report or with the creditor who reported it. The investigation will generally take 30 days. Once this is complete, the credit bureau will delete the information if it finds that it is in fact an error.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is it important to check my credit report?

It is important to check your credit report because credit report errors do happen. They can be the result of a creditor reporting inaccurate information or a sign of identity theft. If the error lowers your credit score, it can lower your chances of being approved when applying for a loan and could prevent you from getting the best rate.

How many free credit reports can you get per year?

The number of free credit reports you can get depends on where you get them and if you have placed a fraud alert on your credit reports.

For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to receive one free credit report from each major credit bureau per year. In most cases, this means that you can view all of your credit reports once a year for free via AnnualCreditReport.com. However, thanks to Covid, you can receive free weekly credit reports from all three credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com until April 20, 2022.

Additionally, some credit reporting companies and personal finance websites allow you to check one or more of your reports for free. For example, if you sign up for myEquifax™, you can get six free Equifax credit reports a year until 2026. Experian also lets you check your Experian credit report for free 12 times a year.

You can also get an additional free copy of your report from each credit bureau if you suspect fraud and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. To do this, you must contact one of the credit bureaus.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and have filed a report, you can get six more free credit reports per year, two from each credit bureau.

How often should I check my credit report?

It’s generally recommended that you check your credit reports at least once a year, but you can check them as often as you like. Before applying for credit, it may be a good idea to review your reports for errors to increase your chances of getting more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates.

What is the difference between a credit report and a credit score?

Although they are interconnected, your credit report and your credit score are separate.

Your credit file contains information about your credit accounts, including the balances you owe and your payment history. Your credit score, on the other hand, is a three-digit number that typically ranges from 300 to 850. Credit score models, such as FICO, use information listed in your credit reports to calculate your score.

How does getting a free copy of my credit report impact my credit score?

Requesting your credit report requires a soft credit check, which has no impact on your credit score.