Access to Your Credit Bureau Reports
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting
companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy
of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months (This credit report
does not include your credit score). The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy
of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. The Federal
Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA
with respect to consumer reporting companies.
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central website,
a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order
your free annual report.
To order your free report annual credit report, visit
, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the
Annual Credit Report Request Form
and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta,
GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies
for your free report.
To purchase a copy of your credit report, contact any of the listed bureau companies
below. A consumer reporting company charges you $9.50 or greater for an additional
copy of your report within a 12-month period.
Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse
action against you such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment
and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The
notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting
company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and
plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is
inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
- Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.
- States may enforce the FCRA, and many states have their own consumer reporting laws.
In some cases, you may have more rights under state law. For more information, contact
your state or local consumer protection agency or your state Attorney General.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a term used to refer to credit bureau risk scores. It
broadly refers to a number generated by a statistical model, which is used to objectively
evaluate information that pertains to making a credit decision. Your credit card
history; amount of outstanding debt; the type of credit you use; negative information
such as bankruptcies or late payments; collection accounts and judgments; too little
credit history and too many credit lines with the maximum amount borrowed are all
included in credit-scoring models to determine your credit score. The most widely
used credit score is called FICO for Fair Issac Co., which developed it.
- Back to top -
your credit report
To have a complete picture of your credit history, it is important to get a credit
report from all three reporting agencies. Since credit reporting is a voluntary
system, and creditors may subscribe to only one agency, it is best not to assume
the information will be the same on all three reports.
A credit report is basically divided into four sections: identifying information,
credit history, public records and inquiries.
- Identifying Information: This information identifies you. Review this information
to ensure it is accurate. Any variations will stay on your credit report and could
complicate loan applications. Other information might include your current and previous
addresses, your date of birth, telephone numbers, driver's license number, your
employer and your spouse's name.
- Credit History: Each account will include the name of the creditor and the account
number, which may be scrambled for security purposes. You may have more than one
account from a creditor. Many creditors have more than one kind of account, or if
you move, they transfer your account to a new location and assign a new number.
The entry will also include:
- When you opened the account
- The kind of credit (installment, such as a mortgage or car loan, or revolving, such
as a department store credit card)
- Whether the account is in your name alone or with another person
- Total amount of the loan, high credit limit or highest balance on the card
- How much you still owe
- Fixed montly payments or minimum monthly amount
- Status of the account (open, inactive, closed, paid, etc.)
- How well you've paid the account
- Public Record: This cites financial-related data, such as bankruptcies, judgments
and tax liens.
- Inquires: Inquires are divided into two sections. Hard inquiries are initiated by
filling out a credit application. Soft inquiries are from companies that want to
send out promotional information to a pre-qualified group or from current creditors
who are monitoring your account.
Once you review your credit reports, any mistakes should be reported to the reporting
Obtain your credit report now!
- Back to top -