Your credit report has such a great bearing on your financial standing. Every time you apply for any form of credit, a company takes a look at your credit report. Sounds basic but its pretty serious. Creditors like your credit cards, utilities, and even cell phone provider (essentially any company that you pay on a monthly basis) report your account standing to the credit reporting agencies. With all these companies looking at your personal information, don’t you think you should have at least an elementary understanding of what kind of data is stored in your credit report??

Getting Your Credit Report

Before you can clearly understand what is in your credit report it would behoove you to order a free credit report from Annual Credit Report. ACR sends you one a credit report from each of the three reporting agencies; Experian; Transunion; and Equifax. You are permitted to order your credit report once a year.

An amendment to the FCRA requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

For details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/.

How to Order Your Free Report

The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can use the form in this brochure, or you can print it from ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through www.annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two. The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

You need to provide:

  • Complete Name
  • Complete Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth

Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.

Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.

For details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/.

Once you get your credit report be sure to take the time to review each section carefully. Please see my post on How to Read Your Credit Report for detailed instructions.

Footnote: The data on this post was gathered from The Federal Trade Commission Website.

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