The information on your credit report plays a major role in obtaining a loan, insurance rates, the ability to rent an apartment, and a number of other aspects of your life. As such, it’s important to know what’s on the report. If something is inaccurately reported or someone has accessed and used your personal information fraudulently, you want to alert the credit bureau right away. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay to access this information. You can request one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Use these steps to get yours.
Navigate to the Proper Website
There is only one website that gives you access to your free credit report: annualcreditreport.com. This central website connects to the three major credit bureaus. While other websites have similar names or claim to provide you with a free credit report, they often have a catch or try to sell you additional services. Make sure you’re on the official site to deal with the credit reporting companies directly.
Have Your Personal Information Handy
Next, fill out the form to identify yourself as the person you need a credit report for. The secure website will request the following information:
Social Security number
Previous address if you’ve lived there for less than two years
Submit a Request
The website gives you a choice of which credit reports you’d like to order. You can order from one, two, or all three credit reporting agencies without having to fill out multiple requests. Ordering from all three allows you to compare the reports and make sure they are consistent. However, since you are only allowed one free report every 12 months, you might consider requesting from one agency now and then spreading out requests for the other two over the rest of the year. This allows you to monitor your report over the entire year without having to pay for additional reports.
Enter Security Information
Before you can view your annual credit report, the agencies need to verify that you are who you say you are. You need to answer a few security questions. These questions relate to information on your credit report, and only you will be able to answer them. For example, you may be asked to identify an old street address or the name of a lender you used for an auto loan. Some questions go back several years into your history.
Review Your Credit Report
Once you answer your security questions, you can view your annual credit report. Review the information to make sure that it is accurate and up-to-date. Contact the credit bureau if you note any inconsistencies or evidence of identity theft. Print the report to keep in your personal records.
Other Ways to Get Your Free Credit Report
If you’re uncomfortable inputting personal information onto the website, are unable to do so, or simply prefer to request your free credit report another way, you can do so by phone or mail.