Obtain Your Credit Reports for Free
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A credit report contains important details about your financial health. It is what potential lenders see when you request a loan. The data on this report is what is used to calculate your FICO score, too. For all of these reasons, it is critical for you to know what is on your credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, it is a legal right of all consumers in the United States to have access to this report. There are restrictions and limitations, though. It is up to you to request one, if you want to use it, and it is up to you to ensure your file contains accurate information.
What Your Rights Are:
Under FCRA, every consumer has the right to receive a copy of his or her credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus one time every 12 months. This law also promotes accuracy and gives you the ability to contact the credit reporting agencies to request a change to your credit report if in fact it is inaccurate. The Federal Trade Commission oversees the credit bureaus and ensures that these laws are carried out.
Getting Your Free Credit Report
While some credit bureaus may provide a free credit report offer from time to time, or as an introduction to a service plan, the only way to get a truly free report is to do so through the website AnnualCreditReport.com. This website is a central site where you can go to receive a copy of each of your credit reports. Keep in mind that there are three national credit bureaus required to give you a copy of your credit report each 12 months. Therefore, you can pull them whenever you want (even spreading them out to obtain one every four months since most contain about the same information.)
The credit bureaus are:
Going to these websites does not provide you with access to your free credit report, unless you purchase a service or respond to an offer. Rather, follow the following steps to get a copy of your report after visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
• Choose one of the three credit bureaus to obtain your report from at the site.
• Provide your name, address and other identifying information.
• Confirm your identity by answering specific questions about your credit report.
• You then have access to the report online.
In addition to this manner, you can also call to request a copy of your report. To do this, call 1-877-322-8228 and follow the directions provided to you. You can also mail a formal request for the report to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5281. Mail a completed Annual Report Request Form to that address which you can locate at FTC.gov.
Individuals are encouraged to obtain a free copy of their credit report since it gives you an idea of what is on the form and what others are seeing. It also provides information about how to file a dispute if you believe the information contained on the report is inaccurate.
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