How to Get and Fix Your Free Credit Report

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What is a Credit Report?

If you have applied for credit, be assured there is a credit report on you including where you live, date of birth, place of employment, income, and whether you pay your bills on time or not. It is very detailed. Your credit report is used to evaluate your debt-to-income ratio and you as a credit risk. There are three separate credit bureaus (Credit Reporting Agency) that create the reports: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit bureaus are in business to earn a profit by selling your credit information to banks, employers, landlords, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, car dealers….

How to Get Free Credit Reports

It is your right to receive one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus annually. Your free credit reports can be obtained directly from only one government authorized website, Be aware that other websites and companies claim to give you free credit reports, also. Those companies require you to buy something to get it “free.” Use only Annual Credit Report as your source for your free annual credit reports.

After identifying yourself through answering a few security questions related to your credit history, you can download the free printable credit report.  You have two other options on how to receive your credit reports via either ordering it by phone (1-877-322-8228) or completing the printable annual credit report request form which can be found along with the mailing address on the official website noted above.

Correcting Credit Report Errors

With the number of credit data submitted to each of the three credit bureaus and the billions of updates performed each month, there are bound to be mistakes. Humans update the data and no one is perfect all of the time, so it is inevitable.  That is why it is important for each of us to take advantage of the free credit report we are entitled to from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. Correcting your credit reports may also help in your credit repair process.

Because of the possibility of mistakes with over 2 billion downloads per month (and that’s just for one of the three companies), it is imperative that you check your credit report very closely. Highlight each entry that looks suspicious or not familiar to you or even misspellings, then contact the creditor listed and the credit bureau that included the information in writing. By law, the credit bureau you contact must investigate and correct the incorrect or incomplete information that proves to be in need of attention that you reported. On average, the corrections should be taken care of within 30 days unless your report turns out to be more complicated than the average. For further information on how to report credit errors, follow this link.

Tips On Correcting Your Credit Report

  1. Don’t expect each of the three credit reports to be the same – they won’t be. Take time to look through each one very closely.
  2. If you find things that need correcting or deletion, put it in writing – keep a paper trail just in case files get misplaced or additional copies are needed.
  3. Follow up on your request if you don’t get a response within a reasonable amount of time, allowing time for receipt and processing.
  4. Include a copy of the credit report in which the misreported information appeared. Remember to highlight the disputed data on the copy.
  5. Don’t get discouraged if you need to do more footwork than you expected. You may find names and accounts that are not yours. You need to prove that that isn’t you and the creditor needs to support your claim.
  6. Look for evidence of  identity theft such as credit card accounts under your name that you don’t remember applying for – any unauthorized activity. If you do find it, contact each of the credit bureaus to report a Fraud Alert on your files.
  7. If you order a credit report directly from the credit bureaus, then you will be charged for the report.
  8. You don’t have to order all three free credit reports at the same time. Space your free credit report orders four months apart so you can monitor your credit activity and possible identity theft throughout the year.
  9. Make lists of all the accounts listed on your three credit reports. Divide the lists into closed and open including account name, account number, type of account, date opened, date closed if applicable, and balance reported. Update your two lists during the year as needed. Next year when you get your free credit reports, you can compare your accounts to those listed. is the only website you should use to obtain your free credit report. The following information is from The Federal Trade Commission: is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every 12 months. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, and yet couldn’t get it without paying fees or buying other services. TV ads, email offers, or online search results may tout “free” credit reports, but there is only one authorized source for a truly free credit report.

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