How To Get A Free Credit Report And Why You Should



Your credit report is a summary of your credit history, including any accounts you have opened, the amount you owe, your payment history, and a summary of certain legal matters.

Lenders use this information to determine whether they should give you a credit card, a car loan, or a mortgage. Landlords and employers sometimes take the credit history of potential tenants and employees into account.

Since your credit history can have a big impact on your financial future, you’ll want to stay on top of what’s on your credit report.

“People need to be informed and educated about credit,” said Darin Shebesta, chartered financial planner and wealth advisor at Jackson / Roskelley Wealth Advisors, Inc., in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I think at least check [your credit report] once a year is smart and then obviously more frequently as long as you don’t have to pay for it. “

Federal law requires every major credit reporting agency – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide a free copy of your credit report once a year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all three credit bureaus offer free reports on a weekly basis, which means you can monitor your financial well-being very closely. As of this writing, weekly reports are expected to be available until April 20, 2022.

Here’s how to claim yours.

How To Get Your Free Credit Report

To request your free credit report, go to (don’t trust any other website) and follow these steps:

1. Tap “Claim yours now!” “In the top menu bar or click on the” Request your free credit reports “button.

2. Click the “Request Your Credit Reports” button on the next page.

3. Enter your information, including your full name, date of birth, social security number, and address in the form fields and click Next.

4. Select the credit bureau report you want. You can choose one, two, or all three. Click on Next.

5. Enter the requested verification information, such as the last four digits of your social security number or email address, on the next screen and follow the additional instructions.

6. If the credit reporting agency is able to verify your identity, you will have access to your free report. You will need to repeat the verification process for each office if you select more than one.

7. If your identity cannot be verified, you may need to call the credit bureau or submit a request by mail.

As noted, you can currently request a free report from each credit reporting agency on a weekly basis, so it won’t make a huge difference if you get all three at once or spread them out over a few days.

Once you are again limited to one report per credit bureau per year, you should only request all three reports at the same time if you are planning a large purchase like a house or a car. Otherwise, it may be best to order a free report every few months.

“Definitely, if you’re going to apply for credit, you want to check it out before you do it,” Shebesta says. “One of the reasons it’s good to check it out as soon as possible is that if there are any mistakes that need to be corrected, it takes time. “

What’s on my credit report?

Your credit report is a compilation of your financial history as reported by creditors, lenders, and financial institutions. The information in your credit report generally falls into several main categories:

  • Personal information: names (present and past), addresses (current and past), phone numbers, social security number, date of birth
  • Information about your credit accounts: account types and dates, credit limits, balances, payment history
  • Information from public archives: privileges, bankruptcies, foreclosures, civil judgments
  • Collection history: accounts sent to collection agencies
  • Credit Investigations: Businesses and Creditors Who Have Viewed Your Report

While all of your credit reports likely contain similar information, they probably won’t be the same. Creditors are not required to report their data to each office, which is why it is useful to request a report from each agency at least once a year. It also allows you to compare common credit report errors.

Something you probably won’t see on your credit report? Your credit rating. Credit bureaus are not obligated to provide a score for free with your credit report.

Credit report vs credit score

Although related, your credit report and your credit score are not the same. Your credit report shows your credit history, which certainly informs your credit score, a prediction of your future creditworthiness.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and help creditors understand, at a glance, how likely it is that you will pay your debts on time. Generally speaking, the lower your score, the higher the risk a creditor takes in lending you money.

“The report tells the story of the score,” Shebesta says.

However, there are a few different formulas used to calculate credit scores, and within each model – FICO and VantageScore are the major players – there are a handful of different types of scores.

Credit bureaus also have their own “educational” scores which may or may not reflect your official FICO score. Your credit score may vary depending on the model used and the data provided by each credit reporting bureau.

How to get a free credit report:

Your credit report contains useful information about your credit history, which lenders use to determine if you should be eligible for more credit. You have access to a free credit report from each credit reporting agency at least once a year at – take the opportunity to make sure there are no surprises.

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