There’s nothing like getting something for free. And a free credit report ranks right up there with the best freebies.
Knowing the condition of your credit is important for so many reasons. Credit ratings could have an impact on such things as credit card approvals, mortgage rates, and car loans. Fortunately, the federal government recognizes how important it is for people to keep track of their credit ratings. That’s why the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
FCRA is focused on promoting the accuracy and privacy of information that’s on file with these credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces this law with respect to credit reporting companies.
So what can you expect to find in your credit report? It will include such information as where you live, how you pay your bills and whether they’re paid on time, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. The three credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit.
And how do you go about ordering your free report? TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax have a central website – www.annualcreditreport.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon! – where you can place your order. Or you can call 1-877-322-8228. There is also a request form that you can fill out and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Click on this link — Annual Credit Report Request FormAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!” – to access the document.
You may order your reports from each of the credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from each of the companies one at a time.
Reports ordered online should be accessible immediately on the website. If you request your report by phone, your request will be processed and the report mailed to you within 15 days. The same 15-day timeframe is in effect if you order your report by mail.
A word of warning – there are imposter websites that claim to offer free credit reports, free credit monitoring, or free credit scores. These sites are not part of the legally required free annual credit report program established by the FCRAAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!.
Some of these sites lure in unsuspecting consumers with their “free services” and then charge for those services after a trial period. A tipoff to this is if the site requires you to submit credit card information in advance of providing services.
Once you receive your free report(s), make sure the information in it is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. This is particularly important before you apply for a loan for a major purchase such as a house or car.
Checking the information in your report also helps guard you against identity theft. If you find inaccuracies in your report – such as purchases you never made – it’s possible that your identity has been compromised and that someone is pretending to be you to make those purchases.
Inaccuracies should be reported immediately to the credit report company that issued your report.
COMING NEXT TIME: How to build and/or improve your credit.