Your credit score is an important item that can open, or close, doors to such things as mortgages, car loans, employment and insurance policies. Knowing your score and what information is on your credit report — which affects the score — will help you manage today’s financial decisions and plan for the future. The Federal Credit Reporting Act, enacted in 1970, gives every American the right to a free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once every 12-month period, and the report will usually include your credit score.
Where to Get Your Free Credit Report
While many websites claim to provide consumers with free credit reports, the truth is that they are often selling other services that they attempt to lure you into buying. If the site asks for credit card information, your credit report will not be free. There are three ways to get a copy of the report without having to pay anything:
- Online; go to AnnualCreditReport.com
- By telephone; call 877-322-8228 (toll free)
- By mail; send your request to Annual Credit Report Request, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Requesting your credit report online gives you instant access to your report. If you request your report by phone or by mail, allow 15 days from the time your request is received for the report to be delivered to your mailbox.
Exceptions to the One-Per-Year Rule
While the general rule is that you are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, there are several exceptions to this.
First, you entitled to a free credit report anytime you have been denied credit, employment or insurance based on the results of a credit check. The prospective lender, employer or insurance company must provide you written notice of which credit reporting agency returned the negative results. Send a copy of the notice to the agency within 60 days to receive a free credit report.
You are also entitled to a free credit report when you have disputed information on a credit report and that information has subsequently been changed due to an investigation, or if you are unemployed and are planning to look for work within 60 days.
Watch Out for Scams
Free credit report scams are abundant. Many have similar names. However, if you remember that truly free credit report websites will never ask you for credit card information, you’ll be steps ahead of the game and should be able to avoid a costly scam.
Monitoring your credit report and credit score is the single most important thing you can do to protect your borrowing power, employment opportunities and insurability. Free annual credit reports and free credit scores are useful and helpful tools for everyone.
If you learned that the bank will not serve you because of a low credit rating, what should you do? When money is urgently needed, there is no time to deal with the reasons. Paydayok.com provides information about the lenders who do not pay attention to the credit report.