Where Do I Get My Credit Report?
Checking your credit score regularly and reviewing your credit report annually are good habits that will help you stay on top of your credit and financial wellness.
Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from any of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.1 These three companies sponsor the only official program, AnnualCreditReport.com, to fill orders for your free annual credit report that you are entitled to under law. Under this program, you have three ways you can get your free credit report:
- Online: AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the fastest way to review your credit report and you should be able to access it immediately. Other websites may offer free credit reports but note that they are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.
- Phone: To get your free credit report by phone, call 1-877-322-8228. After you call your report will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days.
- Mail: Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Here are a couple other answers to questions you may have as you get ready to check out your credit report:
What information do I need to share to get my free credit report?
You’ll need to provide basic identification information – name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. Additionally, you may have to provide your previous address if you have moved within the past two years. For security purposes, each nationwide credit reporting company may also verify information that only you would know, such as where you got your mortgage or the monthly payment on a loan you have.
Should I request the reports from all three credit bureaus at the same time through AnnualCreditReport.com?
There are benefits to getting them all at once, or staggering them over time – it’s your choice. If you’re planning to make a big purchase, move apartments, or anything that would require someone to pull your credit report, it may be good to check all three so you can ensure they’re all accurate and up to date. It may also be a good idea to check all three reports at the same time if you find that something is inaccurate; you’ll want to make sure that the other two bureaus’ reports don’t also need a correction. If you want to review your credit report more than once a year then requesting one report every 3-4 months is a better option.
What should I look for once I have my credit report?
Your credit report is broken down into four main categories.
- Personal information: your name, current and previous addresses, your employer, etc.
- Public records: bankruptcies, repossessions, and foreclosures
- Credit accounts: open and closed accounts and payment history
- Inquiries: recent applications for credit will appear on your report and remain on it for 24 months
When you get your report you’ll want to check each section and make sure everything is accurate and up to date. If you find any discrepancies you’ll want to file a dispute by contacting the credit bureau that you got your report from. You also have the option of disputing the inaccurate information directly with the company/organization that reported the inaccurate information to the credit bureau.
One common discrepancy that may be confused as an error if you compare your credit reports across different bureaus is the number of inquiries. Some lenders only request credit report information from one bureau to make a lending decision and therefore would only register a hard inquiry at that bureau. For example, if you get a loan from Upgrade, a hard inquiry will appear only on your TransUnion credit report. Keep in mind lenders may have relationships with only one bureau, two bureaus, or all three.
Because each person’s credit report is unique to them, knowing what’s on your report and understanding the key factors that impact your credit score will help you understand where you may be falling short, and what actions you can take to improve your score. For example, delinquencies and derogatory marks have a huge impact – making up 35% of your FICO score – so making sure you address those items (if you have them) could help you improve your score.
Are there other situations in which I’m eligible for a free report?
You’re entitled to receive a free credit report if a company takes adverse action against you such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment. The adverse action notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company and you have 60 days to request a copy. You’re also entitled to an extra free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, if you’re on welfare, or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud or identity theft.2
In addition to reviewing your full credit report once a year, it’s also a good idea to keep regular tabs on your credit score. That 3-digit number can be the key to getting the credit you need, the apartment you want, and much more. Check out Upgrade’s Credit Health for free credit monitoring and other tools to help you track and understand your credit situation.