In November of 2003, FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) was passed by US congress and signed into federal law. Among other things this allowed individual consumers free access to their credit report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) once every twelve months.
There has been some criticism in the difficulty of obtaining these free reports so we’ve put together this handy guide to make it as easy as possible for you to get access to your report.
Under FACTA individuals must be able to access their free report in the following three ways: via post, via phone and online. We will discuss each method of getting your score below.
Whilst consumer reporting agencies must give individuals free access to their credit reports, they aren’t currently required to give consumers free credit scores. When you are gaining access to your credit report these companies will try and upsell you on services such as credit monitoring and credit scores. These services are not free and often come with a monthly subscription fee. If you’d like access to a free credit score, we suggest getting a FICO score as this is the score lenders look at.
Getting Your Free Report Online
- Head to annualcreditreport.com
- Fill out your information and follow the prompts
You’ll have access to your credit report(s) immediately.
GETTING YOUR FREE REPORT VIA TELEPHONE
- Call 1-877-322-8228
- Follow the prompts
You’ll receive your credit report within 15 days.
Getting Your Free Credit Report By Post
- Download a copy of “Annual Credit Report Request Form” which can be found on the FTC website or by clicking here.
- Print out the form
- Fill out the form accurately, make sure you shade the boxes rather than putting a cross or tick mark in them as the automatic reader will not be able to process the form otherwise
- Choose which consumer reporting agencies you want your report from (Equifax &/or Experian &/or TransUnion)
- Place into a #10 envelope, do not fold or staple your form
- Affix the correct postage
- Mail your completed form to the following address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
It’ll take up to 15 days for this to be processed and then mail out to you.
F.A.Q’s About Obtaining Your Free Credit Report:
Question: Should I get access to all three of my reports? Why/why not?
Answer: There are advantages and disadvantages to both options and we will look at both sides of the story.
The main reason most people will want (or should want) access to their credit reports is to check for inaccuracies which may be hurting their ability to be approved for loans (or receive the best interest rates when approved).
Each of the three consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) may collected have slightly different information for your credit report. This is because not all creditors (banks, credit card issuers, etc.) report to all three of the agencies.
By accessing all three of your reports you’re able to ensure that none of these agencies have incorrect or inaccurate data on you. If you do access all three at once though you won’t be able to access any of your credit reports for free for a full year.
We suggest getting all three of your credit reports if you’ve never checked them before to ensure your credit history is correct. Once this has been done you can take a staggered approach and get one every four months (after the initial wait of twelve months). Although the choice is yours!
Question: What information do I need to access my reports?
Answer: You’ll need the following information, please make sure it’s accurate or you may experience delays in receiving your credit report:
- Full name
- Social security number
- Address (you’ll also need to provide a previous address if you’ve been living at your current address for less than two years)
- Date of birth
The consumer reporting agencies may also ask for information that only you would know, such as the amount of your monthly mortgage repayment.
- FTC help article on free credit reports
- annualcreditreport.com the official government approved website for getting your free report
The last two times I tried to get my free annual credit report, they would not allow me to get it online. I had to snail mail the request. What is up with this? In the past I was always able to get it immediately online. These damn credit agencys have WAYYY too much power.
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tried to get me report today from annualcreditreport.com …experian will not show, says you have to mail in by hand to receive…what a waste considering they make up 75% on inquiries
Experian is so annoying vs the other 2. I’m having the same issue trying to unfreeze it