A credit report is an essential component of your financial life. It helps determine your eligibility for credit and the kind of terms you will receive when applying for loans. Here is what you need to know about a credit report, from what it entails to how you can get a free credit report.
Understanding Credit Reports
A credit report summarizes your credit history and present credit situation, for instance, your loan repayment habits and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian gather and continually update this information. In addition, these national bureaus get data from lenders, creditors, and other financial institutions.
Your credit report typically contains the following information.
- Personal History. These include official names and nicknames, previous and current addresses, DOB, SSN, and phone number.
- Credit Accounts. These include your balance and payment history, creditors, type of account, and credit limit.
- Collection Items.
- Public Records. These include liens and bankruptcies.
- Inquiries. For instance, if an institution has looked up your credit report.
The information mentioned above can significantly impact your life, from job prospects to where you live and the type of insurance available to you. Lenders use your credit report to determine your loan eligibility and repayment capability. Other companies will use this information to provide utilities, cable T.V., and phone service.
Seeing how much a credit report can affect your financial life, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that credit bureaus must ensure:
- Its accuracy.
- That they make it available every twelve months.
- That they give you a grace period to correct errors.
Reasons Why You Need to Check Your Credit Report
Regularly checking your credit report allows you to confirm its accuracy and correct mistakes, if any, on time. If you spot any errors, ensure you immediately contact the credit bureau and company that supplied the details. Consider checking your credit report before applying for jobs, credit, insurance, and other services.
Staying up to date with your credit history helps spot and quickly resolve identity theft. Remember, identity theft is a serious matter as malicious subjects can access your accounts, steal your money, take advantage of your insurance, and get you in debt. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov and report this crime to receive a recovery plan.
How To Access Your Free Credit Report
The bureaus mentioned earlier have a centralized website, email, and toll-free phone number that you can use to request your free credit report.
Here’s how you order your credit report:
- Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Call 1-877-322-8228.
- Fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it in.
Note: This website is the only legal page allowed to provide credit reports.
How Often Can I Request a Free Credit Report?
Federal law permits you to request your credit report every twelve months. However, the government has made it possible for Americans to order one weekly (free) due to the pandemic. Moreover, you can get up to six free credit reports annually until 2026 from the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. Remember, this is an additional provision separate from the standard one free Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion reports available at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Circumstances That Make You Eligible for a Free Credit Report
Other than the request made every twelve months, specific scenarios allow you to request a free credit report. These include if:
- You receive an adverse action notice, your application for a loan or other service does not go through or receive an adverse action. Here, you can contact the credit bureau within 60 days and make a request.
- You are unemployed and intend to apply for jobs within sixty days.
- You are a beneficiary of a welfare program.
- You are a victim of identity theft.
- There’s a fraud alert on your credit report.
Frequently Asked Questions
What information must I fill out when requesting a free credit report?
The credit bureaus will begin by verifying your identity. They will then request personal information and credit account details that only you should know. Note that each bureau may ask different questions because they have separate information from various sources.
How long will it take to receive my credit report?
Unless your credit report has an issue, you will receive your credit report:
- Immediately if using AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Within 15 days, if calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
- Within 15 days, if by mail using the Annual Credit Report Request Form.
Are credit reports available in braille, audio, or large print form?
Yes, click here to access your credit report in these formats. You will receive it within three weeks.
- If you have a hearing impairment, use the AnnualCreditReport.com TDD service: call 7-1-1 and refer the Relay Operator to 1-800-821-7232.
- If you are visually impaired, you can order using any of the three formats.
Am I allowed to order a free credit report from the three bureaus at the same time?
Yes, you can. However, experts recommend staggering your applications throughout the year to confirm the accuracy.
Are credit reports always free?
No, sometimes you may fail to qualify for a free copy. If this is the case, ensure you only buy from the three bureaus mentioned in this post.
Who has access to my credit report?
Various entities can access your credit report. These include credit card companies and lending institutions.
Your credit report contains sensitive information. Therefore avoid using any other sites claiming to offer credit reports other than those mentioned here. To report fraudulent practices, visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov
Marimark Mortgage is based in Tampa, Florida, and serves the mortgage needs of homebuyers, homeowners, and investors in Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
We specialize in mortgages for first-time homebuyers, conventional home mortgages, refinance loans, reverse mortgages, and FHA, VA, and USDA mortgage options. In addition, we’ve worked extensively with cash-out refinancing and help clients to lower their monthly mortgage payments.