Keeping Your Free Credit Report Hassle Free
We shouldn’t be too surprised by the abundance of scams and people attempting to make money from the ‘free credit reports’ that were mandated through the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT Act), yet consumer advocates are still issuing warnings daily to consumers to use caution when attempting to exercise their rights under the Act.
So, let’s review the free credit report and the process to obtain one.
What do you get?
Your credit report will include (not necessarily in this order) your personal information such as your name, social security number (in some cases), year of birth, name of employers, your telephone number, current and previous addresses, potentially negative items including public records and individual credit items, accounts in good standing and requests for your credit history by both you and others. While all of this information may be accurate, various research reports suggest that you carefully review your report for errors that need correction. Some examples of errors found on credit reports are personal information errors, inaccurate delinquency listings, or the information of other consumers, including public records, on your report.
What don’t you get with the free credit report?
First, you don’t get your credit score. You can obtain your credit score from the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) for a charge. As you know your credit score is not a fixed number. The credit score varies and is calculated each time your credit history is accessed from the information on your report. You may realize then, that checking your score would be less vital than checking on the accuracy of the information on the report from which the score is determined.
In addition, you get no assistance in actually reviewing your report or in correcting information with the free credit report. While filing disputes once an error is identified is simple enough, it is nonetheless sometimes a time consuming process. The follow up necessary for a dispute will require diligence as there are times when disputed errors re-appear on the report and the dispute process must be repeated.
Getting your report.
There are three ways to request your free credit report: by phone, by mail or on the official online site www.annualcreditreport.com. You will have access to Experian, Equifax and TransUnion after verifying who you are through their process.
The free annual credit report is major step forward for consumers. It will improve your efforts to monitor for identity theft. In addition, with the impact of credit scores and credit reports on so many aspects of your life, it will help insure that only correct information appears on your credit report and as a result, calculate the best credit score possible when needed.
Suggestions if you do order a report.
Some have made suggestions to keep in mind when you do order your report.
First, make sure that you are accessing the official site from your HOME computer. www.annualcreditreport.com If you must use a computer with public access be aware that there are identity thieves out there who may obtain your personal information and use it for theft/fraud. It is a good idea to be on a desktop computer to where you can print or copy and paste your report info (to a word document) so that you can review it at a later time. If you do this on a mobile device you will not have this option.
You can only obtain one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (CRA) every 365 days. If you are monitoring your report to guard against identity theft consider staggering your requests. You do not need to order credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (CRA) at once. By staggering your requests, you can obtain one from each CRA every four months.
When you input your information on the site please make sure that you are entering in the most recent and correct information. Once you complete the personal information section it will direct you to obtain your reports and there will be security questions to answer for each CRA. The answers to the questions they will ask are based off the information from the trade lines on your reports so please answer to the best of your knowledge.
If you are denied a report for any reason (missing info, not answering security questions correctly, freeze on your report, etc…) You will then have the opportunity to call or mail in a request with additional verification needed.
This is a great way to obtain, review and dispute (if needed) your credit history so that you can rest assured that all your credit information is yours and correct for when it is time for you to get that house or car you have always wanted.