Guide for How to Get a Free Credit Report

A free credit report is an important tool that can help you make sure you are in good financial standing. If you want to apply for a loan or lease an apartment, your credit report is a piece of information lenders or landlords will access. These documents include comprehensive information about your borrowing history, as well as any open lines of credit you currently have. This can also be helpful if you believe you are a victim of identity theft because someone is opening credit card accounts in your name.  

You may be wondering, “How do I access my free credit report?” Many people know that they need to check their credit reports, but they are not sure how to find this information. To avoid being the victim of a scam, it is important that you know the site you need to visit to obtain your credit report. 

Your credit history is tied to your Social Security Number (SSN). If you enter your number on an illegitimate site, someone can steal your personal information. Additionally, it is important that you are aware of your credit score as it can either hurt or help you through different processes, such as obtaining an FHA loan or applying for Section 8 housing

What is a free credit report score?

Technically, a free credit report score does not exist. In fact, many people who want to find their free credit report score actually want their credit score. This is different from a credit report and credit scores are usually simpler to obtain. A credit report outlines your borrowing history and any debts you owe that have been sent to collections. Your credit report also shows if you filed for bankruptcy in the past 10 years, as well as any of your foreclosures or repossessions that occurred in the past seven years. 

On the other hand, a credit score provides less detailed information. This number signifies how likely you are to repay any amount you borrow. Often, you can check your credit score through your bank or using another online service. These numbers are based on information provided from different credit bureaus. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can obtain a credit report from each of these companies. 

Therefore, even though a credit score is different from a credit report, your score can alert you to any changes that appear on your report. If you notice an unexpected drop in your credit score, a new account may have been opened in your name. 

If the information on your credit report is correct, then you will need to take the appropriate steps to repair your credit. There may be government assistance programs that can help alleviate any financial burden you may have so that you can pay off any debts that are hurting your score. Keep in mind that different factors can affect your credit score, such as: 

  • The amount of debt you have. 
  • Whether you pay your bills on time. 
  • How long you have been building your credit. 

About the Best Free Credit Report Services Online 

There are many different websites that say they can provide you with your full credit report. However, you should be wary of these different options. There is only one site that is authorized to issue free credit reports to individuals. Other sites are likely scams or will not provide you with complete information. 

How to Get Your Experian Free Credit Report 

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion can all provide you with a credit report. Many people assume that there is only one credit report you need to obtain, but this is not exactly true. Each of these credit bureauses can provide specific information about your financial history. For this reason, it is important that you request a report from each of these providers. 

However, there is a way that you can file one request and receive reports from each of these companies. You can do this online or by calling the authorized website’s corresponding phone number. In order for your request to be processed, you must provide the following information to prove your identity: 

  • Name 
  • Birthdate
  • Address
  • SSN 

You can also request your credit report by mail. Regardless of the method you use, make sure you protect your information once you receive it. The sensitive information available in your credit report is especially appealing to criminals, as your report reveals much of your personal information. If you obtain a digital copy of your credit report, make sure it is safely stored on your computer. Likewise, if you request a paper copy of your credit report, be sure you keep it locked in a safe or desk drawer. 

How often can I get my free credit report? 

Once you learn how valuable your credit report is, you may be tempted to check it on a regular basis. However, you cannot. In fact, you are only entitled to one free credit report each year. If you encounter a site or an offer to check your credit report more frequently, beware. It is likely a scam. 

If you want to make sure you are in good financial health before you are due to receive your next free credit report, check your credit score instead. Checking your credit score on your own does not hurt your score. Furthermore, checking your score can save you substantial credit damage if you notice a mistake soon after it occurs. 

What to Do If There is a Mistake in Your TransUnion Free Credit Report

If you notice a mistake in any of your credit reports, it is important that you have the error fixed immediately. It can take a while for these situations to be corrected. To avoid long-term damage to your credibility, you must act fast. 

First, you need to contact the credit reporting company. Usually, you do this in writing. In your letter, be sure to explain what errors you see in your report. Keep in mind that the company will not be able to issue a change without proof. Therefore, be ready to provide documents that support your statement. 

Afterward, you need to file a dispute with the company that reported the incorrect information to the credit reporting company. The company that reports to the credit reporting company may also be called the furnisher. Once you file your request, the credit reporting company will investigate your claim. Then, a determination will be issued. If the credit reporting company finds no mistake, you can request that they include a disclaimer in your report for future lenders and landlords to see when they view your credit report.