Did you know that many people don’t actually know how to obtain a credit report? More importantly, some of them don’t even know why they should check their credit report each year. Credit reports help prove your credit worthiness to potential lenders or creditors. It’s also important to check your credit report each year to make sure that your personal and financial information is completely up to date and correct, as mistakes in these reports happen much more frequently than most people assume. Here are a few ways that you can get your credit report for free:
Annual Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows each United States citizen to receive up to three free credit reports throughout the year. Through this act, you can go to annualt credit report and choose one of three organizations to obtain a credit report. These agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You have the choice to request one credit report at a time or all three at once.
“Free” Credit Report Sites
There are a lot of supposedly “free” credit report sites online. However, many of these sites actually charge you money. One way to get around paying is to sign up for the free credit report and immediately cancel your account or subscription afterwards. It’s very important to remember to cancel your account to avoid being charged.
FICO is a company that charges you to receive both your credit score and a credit report. However, their program Score Watch allows you to sign up for a free trial period. The ten day trial period will give you your credit score and a credit report from Equifax. Unlike many other websites, FICO will consistently remind you to cancel or extend your subscription. The one upside to signing up for FICO’s free trial is being able to receive your credit score. Many places charge you exorbitant rates for access to your credit score, so getting it for free is definitely a good thing.
If you’re unemployed, but are planning on looking for a job within 60 days, you’re guaranteed a free credit report in addition to the three you can receive from annualcreditreport.com. Many companies will check a potential employee’s credit history, so it’s important for you to know what’s on your credit report that may hinder you from getting a job.
People who are on welfare and receiving state or federal government assistance are also eligible to receive a free credit report. Receiving an additional free credit report can help you figure out how you want to tackle financial problems and what areas need to be addressed first.
Have you ever gone to view your debit or credit card statement and found items listed that you never purchased? Banks and credit cards are usually very quick and helpful about catching those instances of fraud and crediting your account. However, if you’re concerned that it had a negative impact on your credit, you can request a credit report from the three credit reporting agencies listed above.
As with being a fraud victim, if you are a victim of identity theft, you are also entitled to a free credit report from one of the three agencies. You can also request two additional credit reports from those agencies within 12 months after you first report identity theft. Requesting multiple credit reports after identity theft will help you make sure that the individual or organization that stole your identity isn’t continuing to do so or that there aren’t items on your report that you didn’t personally incur.
Have you ever attempted to rent an apartment or obtain a loan only to be denied because your credit was denied? Under federal law, you have the right to request a free credit report from the company that denied you credit. Just make sure that you request the report within 60 days of receiving the denial of credit.
No one likes being denied insurance coverage, especially if you know that you have a good credit history. If you have been applying for insurance policies and the insurance company denies you coverage, you can request a free report from the credit agency they used. This falls under the same category as receiving a free report for being denied credit. Sometimes you were denied credit because there are errors on your report, so requesting the free credit report could help you clear up those errors and restore your credit.
Denied a Job
Additionally, you can also request a free credit report if you are ever denied a job based on your credit history. While fewer companies are doing a credit check on potential employees, this could still happen to you. If you are ever denied a job based on your credit, ask Human Resources what agency they used and request a copy of that credit report. As with the two methods above, you need to request the report within 60 days.
(Photo courtesy of Casey Serin)