Each year, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report. This one time credit report can be requested from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. This provides a consumer with the opportunity to monitor their credit and correct any errors in a timely manner.
Consumers can get their one-time credit report for free from annualcreditreport.com. You also have the option of calling or requesting your report through the mail. Reports can be requested from all three bureaus, or you can request a report from one company at a time.
While there are many websites that claim they offer free credit reports, annualcreditreport.com is the only website that is authorized to provide the free report you are legally entitled to. Be wary of other sites that claim they offer free reports. Many of them wind up duping you by offering “free trials” of their service. If you fail to cancel your membership within the trial period, your credit card will be charged monthly.
Information You Will Need
When requesting your free credit report, you will need to supply the following information:
- Your birthdate
- Your social security number
- Your name
- Your address
If you have been living at your current address for less than two years, you may be asked to provide your previous address. In some cases, you may also be asked for more personal information that only you would know, such as the amount of your monthly mortgage payments. This is for security reasons only and each bureau may ask different information.
Once you have requested your report, you should be able to access it immediately on the annualcreditreport.com website. If you request your report by phone or through the mail, it will be processed and mailed to you in approximately 15 days.
Please keep in mind that your free credit report does not come with your credit score. You can only see your score and your report if you pay for it.
What Your Credit Report Says About You
When you request your credit report, you are essentially requesting for a copy of your credit history. This report discloses how many credit cards you have, whether or not you pay your bills on time and how many loans you have.
If you have a credit card in your name or have ever taken a loan out with the bank, you have a credit history. Those with a good credit history will have a much easier time taking out a loan or getting a job. A person with poor credit may have to take the necessary steps to improve their score before they can take out a loan.
It is also possible for a person to have no credit. This can happen if:
- You have never taken out a loan from a credit union or bank.
- You have never had a credit card.
Having no credit history is just as bad as having bad credit. Without any history to go by, you may find it harder to get a job or rent an apartment. In theory, you need to have credit to get credit.
Why You Should Check Your Credit
There are several reasons why you should check your credit at least once per year. The first and most obvious reason is to protect your identity.
If another person takes out a loan or credit card in your name and fails to pay the monthly payments, the creditor will report the delinquency to at least one of the three credit bureaus. This will show up in your report and you can take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.
Checking your credit is also important if you plan on borrowing money or applying for a credit card. Lenders, creditors, employers and even property rental management companies may check your credit report. They do this because they want to make sure they are lending money to credible borrowers. If your report indicates that you fail to pay your bills on time, they may fear that you will treat your loan payment the same way. In some cases, employers look at credit reports to help determine whether or not a potential employee will be responsible.
If you cannot pay your bills in a timely manner, will you be just as irresponsible at work?
It is also important to get your free annual report so that you can check for errors. Errors can negatively impact your rating and prevent you from being approved for a mortgage or loan. If the information on your report is incorrect, you can report it, dispute it and take steps to correct it.
Every consumer is entitled to a free one-time credit report each year, and every consumer should take advantage of this opportunity. Not only will you be able to detect fraudulent activity, but you can also take the necessary steps to improve your credit rating as well.