Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), all Americans are entitled to receive, upon request, one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. The credit bureaus do not accept requests for the free credit report directly, though. Instead, the agencies created a central website, toll-free phone number and mailing address through which all requests for free credit reports are routed and processed.
How to Request Your Free Annual Credit Report Online
To obtain a free credit report from one or more of the credit bureaus immediately, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. You will be required to provide your full legal name, complete address, Social Security number and date of birth. Your previous residence address will probably be required if you have moved within the previous two years. Additionally, you will be asked to answer two or three questions related to information in your credit report that only you should know. For example, you might be asked about the amount of your monthly student loan payment or to verify the name of your mortgage company.
Other Ways to Request Your Free Annual Credit Report
You also can request your annual credit report by calling the toll-free number 1-877-322-8228. Your report will be mailed to you within 15 days. Alternatively, you can download, print and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form,
which should be mailed along with the required supporting documentation to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Your report or reports will be mailed within 15 days of receipt of your request.
Obtaining Your Credit Report for Free More Frequently
In addition to the annual credit report that all consumers are entitled to, a free credit report is available upon request under certain circumstances. If a credit or insurance application is denied as a result of information obtained from your credit report, then you may request a free report within 60 days of being notified of the adverse action. If you are unemployed and intend to seek employment within 60 days, then you are entitled to one free report each year. You are also eligible to obtain a free credit report if you receive welfare benefits. Finally, if there are inaccuracies in your report due to fraud or identity theft, then you are entitled to a free report.
How to Obtain a Free Credit Score
Although information found in your credit reports are used to calculate your credit score, the free annual credit reports do not contain your credit score. You have the option of purchasing your FICO score when you request your free annual credit report. Several sites provide an estimation of your credit score for free, though. Reputable sites include Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.