Free Credit Report from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax

Credit reports are detailed documents that list important facts about a person's credit history.  Credit scores and credit report details have evolved into an extremely important document that is used to make critical decisions, and not always fairly.  Credit reports provide specific details about bill payment details, loans, library fines, prior employment, plus other public information over the past seven to 10 years.  The credit score is a number compiled out of all of this data and used to determine whether a person is a good financial risk.  The importance of using the free annual credit report check to verify the accuracy of the three credit reports cannot be stressed enough.  Some of the people who use a credit report to make decisions about people without meeting them are public utility companies, credit card companies, potential employers, lenders, banks, landlords, and many others. Worth is now attached to an individual's credit score. Credit reports are available absolutely free of charge annually from the three credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Things You Will Need

Personal information
Driver License/ID/SS #

Step 1 - Check Online Credit Report

Use your consumer right to a check your credit report every 12 months for free. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles individuals to an annual free credit report from all three credit bureaus. The best site to get your credit report is from Annual Credit Report dot com, Follow the on page instructions for each individual company so you can get a credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Credit reports are offered online through immediate access as long as you can meet the credit bureau identification requirements for each company.  If there is a fraud alert or anything places on your credit report then sometimes you have to mail the request.  Try it online first and pay attention because one typo will restrict access to the online credit report.  

Step 2 - Request Credit Report by Mail

Request your free credit report by mail if you cannot get one of your credit reports online.  Since each credit bureau has different rules it is possible to access one company online, and need to request another report by mail. The Annual Credit Report website will give you detailed information on each credit bureau's requirements and what is required to specifically identify yourself through the mail. For example, you will be asked to mail in a proof of identification such as a copy of your Driver License, Social Security card, utility bills, and/or other information.

Make a copy for your files of the information you send along with the date you send it. Mail it from the post office with a return receipt request so you know that the credit bureau receives it. When in doubt mailing it this way provides you proof and you'll have assurance your personally identifiable information got to its destination.

Step 3 - Other Times to Get your Credit Report Free

There are certain times that you can qualify to get a free credit report.  If you are on public assistance, denied credit, or have had the information in your credit report used against you then you can contact the credit bureaus to access your credit report.  For example, if an application for a credit card is rejected the company usually sends you a letter.  In that letter it states your right to get your credit report when you are denied credit so that you can see the information that they used to make a decision.

Step 4 - Compare Credit Reports

Compare all three credit reports to each other.  This is very important.  Credit bureaus don't all have the same reporting requirements.  When you look at your Equifax credit report and compare it to the TransUnion credit report make sure that all of the data is correct and the same.  One credit report might look fine, but there is no way to tell which credit bureau is used at any given time to approve or deny you credit.  Highlight any mistakes in the credit report so you can correct credit report errors.  The credit report and credit score is used to make important decisions that impact your life. Use the free annual credit report offer. Anyone who thinks they have no credit, bad credit, or great credit still needs to check it yearly for free.  Fixing bad credit histories and keeping a good credit score can only happen by taking the first step of checking your credit report.  There are ways to reduce credit card interest rates that can help you improve your credit score.
Make sure to save copies of your credit information year to year and document the dates so you'll be able to request your absolutely free report every 12 months. Getting your free credit report every year puts you back in control of your information.

Tips & Warnings for Checking Credit Reports

- Don't use a public or shared computer if possible because requesting credit reports requires personal information and validation.  Use caution any time you put in personal information online like deleting cookies and browser history, and empty the cache.  Protecting personally identifying information is an important step to prevent fraud.
- Some sites offer free reports if you try credit monitoring. The site is the only government authorized site for absolutely free annual reports. They do charge for credit scores.
- Be careful about credit inquiries and accidentally lowering your credit score.  Each time you apply for credit it is noted on your credit report.  Inquiries into credit reports are listed on the credit report, which is one way for you to find out who has been checking into your credit, but it also shows your own applications.  Too many applications for credit looks like bad on the credit report and has a negative effect.  Use caution when applying for credit cards or store credit.   Even opening a savings account at a credit union count counts as an inquiry.  Use credit wisely because once it's lost it's hard to get back.  Learn how to transfer credit card balances and  shift credit without damaging your credit score.