How to Order a Free Credit Report

If you've never ordered a free credit report previously, you may be a bit uncertain of how to proceed in acquiring this valuable documentation. Don't fret, though, accessing your free credit report is a seamless process that can bolster your financial future and of those dear to you. Though it may seem like a trivial matter, it’s in your best interest to order and review your credit report to ensure your financial health.

In fact, by law, you’re permitted to receive a free report every twelve months. This has been enabled by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), whereby one of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) will provide you with a free report at your request. The FCRA ensures your privacy and the accuracy of the data shared, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Your free credit report provides important information for you and potential creditors regarding your payment histories, bankruptcies, where you’ve lived, among other factors related to your financial well-being. It’s important to review your free report to ensure its integrity, as insurers, employers and landlords may evaluate it as a factor in determining your suitability for a job, policy or housing opportunity. Below are some easy steps to make ordering and understanding your free credit report a breeze.

How do I access a free credit report?

You can order your annual credit report through any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A central website exists to streamline the process for you. Consult sites like annualcreditreport.com to make the process simple. Sites such as this provide direct telephone and postal numbers to help you further.

Are there requirements to access my report?

The nationwide credit reporting companies will solicit some information from you to process your report, including your legal name, date of birth, social security number and address. You may have to provide your previous address, if you have moved in the last two years. Be aware that some of the information sought only will be provided by you such as your monthly mortgage payments.

How long will it take to receive my credit report?

You should be able to access your credit report as soon as you request it online. Should you request a hardcopy to be mailed to you, you can expect to receive it within 15 business days.

What should I expect to find on my report?

Once you receive your report, you will find a comprehensive listing of your financial history. Examine it carefully to ensure its accuracy. This will prove prudent when you are asked to submit your credit history to apply for a loan to purchase a home, start a business or buy a car. It is also important when you apply for a job or buy insurance. Y

Is there anything I should be cautious of?

Use good judgment when ordering your report online. There are some misleading sites that use providing you with a free credit report as a marketing scheme to sell you extraneous credit services you may not desire. For example, some companies offer you a credit report to accompany a credit monitoring service for a trial period at no cost, only to charge you if you don’t cancel in time.

How can identity theft impact my credit report?

Identity theft has become more visible in the media, as it affects people across the globe. You should remain vigilant against it, as it can severely impact your credit report. Should you believe your identity has been compromised, whereby someone else is using your name, social security number or financial information, report it immediately to your financial and credit institutions to ensure your security. Often, identity thieves will use your information to open credit card accounts or make purchases online in your name. This has the potential to impact your credit score, and thus your ability to securing favorable lending terms as well as employment.

Though not exhaustive, these easy steps and considerations should make accessing your free credit report a seamless process. Whether you or someone close to you has neglected checking their report, it's important that you get online and order it to ensure you're never surprised when you go to buy your dream house or land that career opportunity of a lifetime.

 

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