Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), every consumer is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus. To get your free annual report, you can contact each of the three credit bureaus individually, or you can contact one centralized source that has been created for this purpose. Besides the annual report, you are also entitled to a free report under the following circumstances:
- A company has taken adverse action against you, such as denying you credit, insurance, or employment (you must request a copy within 60 days of the adverse action)
- You’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within the next 60 days
- You’re on welfare
- Your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft
If you are not eligible for a free report, you can buy a copy from each of the three credit bureaus. You may be charged up to $9.50 for each copy.
You can order your free annual report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, by calling 877-322-8228, or by completing an Annual Report Request Form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Alternatively, you can contact each of the three credit bureaus:
- Experian National Consumer Assistance Center, www.experian.com, P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-2104, (888) 397-3742
- Trans Union LLC, Consumer Disclosure Center, www.transunion.com, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022, (800) 916-8800
- Equifax, Inc., www.equifax.com, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374, (800) 685-1111
If you make your request online, you should get access to your report immediately. If you request your report by phone or mail, you should receive it within 15 days.
Whether you go online, call, or write for a copy of your credit report, you will have to provide certain information so that your file can be located, and your identity can be verified. If you order by phone, you will be asked to speak, spell, or key information into the phone. Generally, the information requested includes:
- Spouse’s name (if applicable)
- Previous address
- Social Security number
- Home phone number
- Name of employer past and present
- Date of birth
Tip: If you write to a credit bureau for a copy of your credit report or for any other reason, you should include the same information in the letter.
When you call to order a copy of your credit report, you will not speak to a real person. You will hear a series of recorded messages. You will be given prompts and asked to respond by speaking or keying your response into the phone. It is very simple and self-explanatory. In most cases, your credit report will be processed within 48 hours.
Why would you want to get a copy of your credit report?
Your credit report is important because it can affect whether you get a mortgage or other type of loan, insurance, or employment. You should review your credit report to make sure it is accurate, complete, and up to date. Reviewing your report can also help you guard against identity theft.