Once in a while, people want to know more about their financial situation. Knowing your credit score, knowing about existing and paid-off debts and other important and relevant information can help to establish a plan for expenses yet to come and to understand whether or not taking a loan is a good option.
Why is your credit report important?
The credit report shows the financial history of an individual. It contains detailed information on your bills, debts, bankruptcy and even lawsuits. The information is so important that various institutions buy it from the credit reporting agencies. There are three nation-wide reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Why ask for your annual free credit report?
If you are considering taking a personal loan, you want to know what interest fee to expect, which is based on your financial history. Also, it is wise to check your credit report for errors and deal with them now before it is too late. Credit reports also reveal identity theft, so, if someone is using your name and data to get money, this will be revealed in the report.
Who needs credit reports?
First of all, you do. Considering the credit reporting agencies may sell that information to interested parties, you should want to know what they’re saying about you. You want to know what those parties will be told about you and how will that information may affect your relationship with them.
The following companies have the right to request credit reports from the corresponding agencies:
- Other companies who may have the right to that information for professional purposes.
Does anyone requesting a credit report affect your credit score?
When you are requesting your own credit report or asking for your credit score, the credit bureaus will file that request under those viewed only by you. These are soft credit inquiries and do not affect your credit score whatsoever.
On the other hand, when a third party asks credit reporting agencies for your credit history, the request will be filed under inquiries viewed by others. Since this type of inquiries is visible to others, they are called hard credit checks and they can affect your credit score.
How can you get a free credit report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs the relationship between individuals and institutions interested in credit reports. The Act states that every individual is entitled to get one free credit report per year.
If you ask for your own copy of this report, here are the steps to follow:
- Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, or
- Call 1-877-322-8228, or
- Mail the Annual Credit Report Request Form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Although there are three reporting agencies, you can file one request to the above-mentioned contacts to get a report from all three. You may also contact each credit reporting agency separately when you have to buy the credit report:
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com
- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111; www.equifax.com
- TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800; www.transunion.com
When asking for the credit report, don’t forget to mention your name, social security number, address, and date of birth.
What should you take into consideration when requesting your free credit report?
Although many are not aware of this, scams are possible even when asking for a simple thing like your annual credit report. In order to not become a victim of these, please be advised:
- There is only one authorized website, toll number, and address that offers the annual credit report. These are the contacts given above. Avoid other ads promising free credit reports. These are often websites with trial periods, and they may start asking for money after a time.
- Watch out for misspelled website addresses. Adding a letter or taking one out is a common manner of catching inattentive web visitors to fall for scams. These websites collect personal information or sell their services.
- Never answer emails asking for personal information. Also, avoid pop-ups, phone calls or phone messages. Any such attempt to contact you should be reported to the FTC, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending on the manner you have requested the credit report, you will get access to it in the corresponding period of time:
- By phone – up to 15 days
- Online – immediately
- By post – up to 15 days
Many people are not aware that they can get a copy of their credit report for free, nor do they realize that requesting your own credit report does not affect their credit score in any way. Hopefully, this information will make your free credit report more accessible and help you become more aware of your real financial history.
References and Sources
1. Free Credit Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
2. Ordering Your Own Credit Report Won’t Hurt Your Score. Retrieved from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/ordering-your-own-credit-report-wont-hurt-your-credit-scores/
3. Check your credit report with TransUnion. Retrieved from https://www.transunion.com/credit-report