Did you know that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows you to pull your own credit report for free?
If you think your personal information has been compromised, it’s good to check your credit report.
It may be your first time getting one, or you haven't gotten one for a long time, so you want to check the latest process.
We've checked the official sites of credit bureaus to verify the process of getting your free credit report. Read until the end to know how to get an extra report after you get your free copy.
Don’t skip any important step or you might just delay the process.
In this article
How to get your free credit report from the major credit bureaus?
Checking your credit report helps you spot potential identity theft early. If you notice an unfamiliar address or loans you didn’t apply for, you can better protect yourself and stop scammers from using your identity further.
You can easily get free credit reports from all 3 bureaus through the Annual Credit Report’s website. But you can also request them from each credit bureau.
Annual Credit Report
1. Visit the legitimate site
Make sure you’re on the correct site: AnnualCreditReport.com. Scammers know that the website requires sensitive information, so you refrain from visiting the website through unfamiliar links.
Type the URL on your browser to prevent visiting fake websites.
2. Enter personal information
Choose “Request yours now!” from the top menu, then provide the following details:
- Full name
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Current US address
- Previous US address
3. Request your credit report
4. Answer security questions
The website will also ask questions about your finances. According to the Annual Credit Report, this step is supposed to be difficult, so they can prevent scammers from accessing your report.
You must recall confidential information, such as a lender’s name, date of an account opening, previous address, or a certain account’s monthly payment.
If you can’t recall the answers to the security questions, you can request your credit files by mail or phone. We’ll give clear instructions in the latter part of this section.
5. Save your credit report
After completing the previous step, you need to save a copy of your credit file. The website will also warn you that closing the tab will end the request process. As a result, you will be unable to return for one year.
Important: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion offer free weekly online credit reports until December 31, 2022.
Still, you need to download and print your credit reports for record keeping.
What if you can’t answer the security questions correctly?
Here’s the phone number for Annual Credit Report: (877) 322-8228. Fortunately, visually impaired consumers may ask for large-print or Braille reports.
You can also answer the request form that asks for the same details in step two. After completing the required information, mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
📮P.O. Box 105281
📍Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Aside from Annual Credit Report, you can also directly contact the major credit bureaus, especially if you want to know your credit score.
After learning to access your credit file, you might wonder, “What’s the best site to get a free credit report?”
Currently, AnnualCreditReport.com is the best site for free reports. You can request from the three credit bureaus by filling out one form. The straightforward process saves you time, but you might need to contact the bureaus directly if you want to check its accuracy.
How many free credit files can you get per year?
You’re only entitled to one credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies per year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can have a free online report per week until the end of 2022.
Still, if you need additional reports, you can get them for free from the Annual Credit Report. But any of the following exceptions must apply to you:
- You placed a fraud alert on your credit files.
- You’re unemployed and plan to apply for work within 60 days from the date of request.
- You’re receiving public welfare assistance, such as income assistance, housing aid, and health insurance.
- You believe you have an inaccurate report due to fraud.
- You received notice regarding denied credit, employment, or insurance. To be eligible for another credit file, you must request it within 60 days of receiving the letter.
- Your state provides additional credit reports.
But there’s already a fee if you’re not under the above-mentioned exceptions. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, agencies can charge no more than $13.50 for the additional report.
You can request another one by directly contacting one or all of the three credit reporting companies. We compiled their contact information below.
Depending on their pricing plans, you can also get additional reports from all credit bureaus for almost $40.
Equifax and Transunion offer it for $19.95 per month, while Experian’s three-bureau report has a one-time cost of $39.99.
Why do you need to check your reports?
Here are the reasons why you should get a free credit report from the government.
1. Protect yourself against identity theft
When you regularly check your credit files, you can spot suspicious activities, such as new loans you didn’t apply for or credit accounts you didn’t open.
It allows you to contact your bank and credit unions to verify the transactions. You can quickly defend yourself from identity thieves and scammers.
2. Know your current credit position
When you intend to buy a house, get a loan, or rent an apartment, you need to present your financial background shown in your credit report.
So when you have a score of 670 and above, you can qualify for the lowest interest rates and have a higher chance of buying your dream car or house.
3. Ensure accurate information
Lenders should accurately update your payment history. So when you see old negative information that needs to be removed, you can file a dispute with the creditor.
For example, late payments and other negative accounts may stay on your credit report for up to seven years. After such time, creditors should remove them from your credit history.
Take advantage of your free credit reports
Since the Annual Credit Report offers a straightforward process, you should get your file at least once a year. It has several uses, such as preventing identity theft and understanding your current credit position.
You only need to visit the correct website, enter personal information, request a report, then answer security questions. After that, you can already save or print it.