In compliance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act), companies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required to provide individuals with a free annual copy of their credit report upon request. The following information will help you understand how to acquire your credit report and why it’s important to do so.
How often can I request a free credit report online?
You can request one free credit report every 12 months from each of the consumer credit reporting companies–Equifax, Experian and TransUnion–via the options noted below.
How do I request a free annual report?
To simplify the process, the three companies have created numerous options for obtaining your free credit report:
- <Online: AnnualCreditReport.com
- Toll-free telephone: 1.877.322.8228
- US Mail: Mail the completed Annual Credit Report Request Form to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Should I order all three credit reports at once or request them individually throughout the year?
The choice is entirely reliant on your personal preference; although both have advantages. If you choose to order all three at once, you can compare them to gain a more complete understanding of your credit score. Opting to order the three separately over the course of 12 months allows you to monitor your credit score over long stretches of time, keeping you appraised of trends and changes to your score.
CONSUMER ALERT: What about all the free credit reports I see on TV and in the mail?
Ads throughout much of mainstream media, emails and direct mail solicitations claim to offer “free” credit reports, credit scores and credit monitoring. While some may be legitimate, many of these free claims come with hidden costs and unwanted services. Most of these companies do indeed provide you with a free credit score, but follow up with offers for credit protection or monitoring. While these services may be useful, they typically cost money, so be sure to do your homework before signing up.
What special situations require I be given a free credit report?
Federal Law states that you may request a free credit report if a company takes “adverse action” against you. This includes – but is not limited to – denying an application for insurance, credit or employment due to information in your credit report. Other circumstances include welfare, unemployment and any report of fraud (or identity theft).
Is it important to monitor my credit report often?
Yes! Credit reports are used to evaluate applications for loans, credit, employment and insurance, so it’s incredibly important to know where you stand. Review your credit report frequently, keep information up-to-date and accurate, and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your credit is in order.