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How Can I Check My Credit Report For Free?

by Refi.me Staff on June 25 2021

Your credit report is an integral aspect of your financial life. It acts as an indicator of your financial health and can impact your approval when you apply for credit. Credit card issuers and lenders also use it to set personalized terms and interest rates. The entries in your credit report are also used to calculate your credit score. The more positive entries in the report, the higher your credit score will be. This can help you get faster approval and better terms when you apply for any line of credit.

How Exactly Does Checking My Credit Report Help?

Checking your credit report can help you understand and track your credit history. You can then use this information to make certain changes with a view to building your credit.

Maybe your loan or credit card application was rejected because of a poor credit score. Analyzing your credit report can help you identify what’s keeping your score down so you can make the relevant changes. You need to know where you’re at and where you need to be so you can plan a strategy to make the necessary improvements.

Another reason to check your credit report is to make sure the information is up to date, accurate, and complete. You should do this at least once a year and especially before applying for a loan, insurance, or credit card. Inaccurate or incomplete entries can keep your score down. This can make it more difficult to get approved. The few lenders who do approve will almost definitely charge you a higher interest rate. If you do find any errors in your report, you can dispute this information with the credit bureau. Getting the errors removed from the report will improve your credit instantly, qualifying you for a lower rate.

Last but not least, checking your credit report will help you spot identity theft earlier rather than later. Identity theft has serious consequences. Thieves can use your personal information to rack up charges on your credit card or drain your bank account. They can also get new credit cards in your name, steal your tax refund or open other utility accounts in your name. Exorbitant charges and unpaid bills can damage your credit. Reporting suspicious activity on your report to the credit bureaus is the first step to curbing the damage.

How Do I Get My Free Credit Report?

Federal law gives entitles you to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the credit reporting bureaus. There are three nationwide credit reporting bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each bureau may compile a slightly different report depending on the information they receive. You can request a free credit report from each of these agencies once every 12 months. This can be done over the phone, by email, or online through the Annual Credit Report website.

Annual Credit Report is the only website authorized to issue free credit reports. Regardless of whether you submit your request by phone, mail, or online, you’ll need to verify your identity to get your request approved. For this you’ll have to provide details about your date of birth, Social Security number, and current and previous addresses.

The time it takes for you to receive your free credit report depends on how you ordered it. You’ll get access instantly if you submit your request online at AnnualCreditReport.com. It can take about 15 days to receive the report if you submit a request by mail or over the phone.

If you’re visually impaired, you can request the agencies to send your free credit report in Braille, large prints, or audio format.

Can I Get More Than One Free Credit Report During A 12-Month Period?

You could request an additional free credit report under these circumstances:

    • You’ve received notice of adverse action. This happens when a company denies your application for credit, employment, or insurance because of poor credit. The adverse action notice will specify which credit bureau they used to make their decision. You have up to 60 days from receiving the notice to request a free report from that bureau.
    • You’re currently unemployed and are planning to start job hunting within 60 days. Many employers are hesitant to hire employees with poor credit. Checking your report allows you to report inaccuracies and get your credit back on solid footing. This will reduce the risk of getting turned down because of poor credit.
    • You have a fraud alert on your credit file. Look in fraud alerts immediately. You can’t afford to wait till your next free report is due to determine the nature of the fraud.
    • You reported an inaccuracy and want to confirm that it’s fixed.
    • Recipients of public welfare assistance can also apply for an additional report within 12 months.

Other than these free reports, you’ll have to pay a small fee if you want an extra credit report within 12 months.

Can Anybody Else Get Access To My Free Credit Report?

Yes, others can get access to your free credit report but not everybody can. Federal law determines who can get a copy of your free credit report. Lenders, credit card issuers, and insurance companies have access to your report. This is to help them determine eligibility as well as terms.

Prospective employers and landlords can also access your free credit report but only if you grant permission in writing. Without written permission, they won’t be able to get a copy of your report.

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