Consumers in the US have the privilege to request for a copy of credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) once a year. Be sure to take advantage of this provision by the government as stated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can order all three copies of your report from the three bureaus at once or you can also request one copy from each bureau at a time throughout the year.
Nonetheless, some consumers may not know exactly where or how to request their free credit report. This post presents three different ways for you to request your credit report at no charge.
Free Report Via the Internet
You may find websites that offer free credit report to consumers but watch out! Such offers may not be entirely free at all. Consumers need to be aware that there is only one resource online authorized by the government to distribute free consumer reports- www.annualcreditreport.com.
Don’t be fooled! Scammers and identity thieves can easily set up phony websites that looks exactly like the genuine resource. To avoid being tricked, carefully type the website address in the address bar of your browser rather than simply clicking the link found online.
You can also check out the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer alert page from its website to help consumers distinguish the difference between the real Annual Credit Report website from fraudulent websites.
Free Report Via Telephone
There is another way to request for a free credit report and that’s through the telephone. You can callthe toll free number, 877-322-8228. When requesting through this method, see to it that you speak over the phone clearly to make sure that your information will be inputted correctly.
However, if you have a strong regional accent or if you have a long or complicated last name, requesting via postal mail or online is best.
Free Report Via Post Mail
Download the free credit report request form from the FTC’s website. (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/include/requestformfinal.pdf) Print out the form and fill out the necessary information. Send the application via registered post mail at this address: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Don’t forget to shade the box that indicates your preference to mask all except the last four digits of your SSN. The text box in the form reads: “Shade here if, for security reasons, you want your credit report to include no more than the last four digits of your Social Security Number.”
What to Do with Your Report
Upon receiving your free report, carefully examine each section to make sure that all the details are correct. If you notice any error contained in your report, create a letter of dispute and send it via registered mail it to the bureau that issued your report.
In your letter, state the specific item that needs to be corrected. You may also send a photocopy of your report with the error or items in question clearly marked or highlighted. Upon receiving your letter, the bureau will have 30 days to conduct an investigation regarding your complaint and if your request is found valid, the necessary corrections will be made.