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How to Get a Free Credit Report
Y ou know you should check your credit report at least once a year to check for identity theft, make sure the information reported is accurate, and to figure out how much debt you owe. Since credit reports can be as much as $14.95, it can get expensive ordering your credit reports throughout the year. Getting a free credit report is much better.
You have three credit reports, one from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you want to get a complete picture of your credit history, check all three of your credit reports. Not all creditors and lenders report to all three credit bureaus, so your credit reports will likely be different from each other. No matter which free credit report method you choose, make sure you check all three of your credit reports at least once a year.
Free Credit Report from AnnualCreditReport.com
In 2003, the federal government passed a law that grants you a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. This free credit report is commonly referred to as your annual credit report. You can order your annual free credit report online, over the phone, or through the mail. Online is the quickest method, allowing you to view your free credit report immediately. Phone and mail requests for your annual credit report take up to three weeks to get your free credit report.
Ordering Your Annual Credit Report Online
To order your annual credit report online, simply visit AnnualCreditReport.com and follow the instructions on the site. You’ll be required to enter your personal indentifying information like your name, social security number, and date of birth. You might also have to verify your identity by answering questions about accounts that may appear on your credit report.
Be careful when you order your annual credit report online because there are many imposter websites that claim to give you a free credit report, but enroll you in a subscription credit monitoring service, then charging your credit card if you don’t cancel the trial. We’ll talk more about those types of services later.
When you order your free credit report online through AnnualCreditReport.com, you won’t have to enter a credit card number and there are no trial subscriptions to cancel. The credit report is absolutely free.
Ordering Your Annual Credit Report Via Mail and Phone
You might choose to order your annual credit report through the mail or over the phone.
To order your free annual credit report by phone, call 1-877-322-8228. You’ll be asked questions to verify your identity. Once you place your order, your annual credit reports will be mailed within 15 days.
To order your free annual credit report by mail, you need to download and fill out the request form. The form requests your social security number, date of birth, name, and previous and current mailing addresses. You must also indicate which of the three annual credit reports you would like to order. Once you’ve completed the form mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Once your form has been received, it can take 2-3 weeks to receive your annual credit report.
Enroll in a Free Credit Report Promotion
Type in “free credit report” in a search engine and you’ll get pages upon pages of results from companies that have free credit report promotional offers. These free credit reports are not part of the government-granted annual credit report offer, and may actually cost, if you’re not careful.
To get a free credit report, you must enroll in a trial subscription to a credit monitoring or identity theft monitoring service. Enrollment typically requires you to enter a valid credit card number. Your credit card number allows the service to begin charging you if you haven’t cancelled before the trial period ends. These trials last anywhere from 7 to 30 days. You must cancel during that time to avoid being charged for your free credit report.
These free credit report promotions vary in the number of credit reports you receive (1 or all three) and whether you receive a free credit score as part of the promotion. The cost of the credit monitoring service also varies, ranging from $9.95 per month to $29.95 per month. Make sure you know how much the service costs so you know what will be charged to your credit card if you don’t cancel in time.
Other Ways to Get a Free Credit Report
- You can get a free credit report if you’ve had an application and the reason for denial was based on information in your credit report. The business is required to send a letter telling you why you have been denied and giving instructions for getting your free credit report.
- You can get a free credit report if you’re unemployed and about to start looking for a job.
- If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can receive a free credit report.
- Finally, consumers who are on welfare are entitled to receive a free credit report under the FCRA.
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Written by CREDIT