Getting Your Free Credit Report - No Strings Attached09/06/2011 | Fall 2011 Newsletter
Credit reports are used for more than just evaluating new loan applications. If you have a home equity line of credit, adverse information in a credit report could affect your line of credit.
Credit reports can also be used for employment purposes, to evaluate whether you can obtain insurance, and even to determine whether you can obtain some government-issued licenses. To protect against errors, you should review your credit report periodically. Federal law lets you easily get a copy for free, no strings attached.
Federal law requires that each national credit bureau give you a FREE copy of your credit report once each year. The three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, have set up an Internet site to deliver the free credit reports. You do not have to get “Credit Card Fraud Protection,” sign up for a monitoring service, or pay for any other product or service to get your free report.
If you want your free credit report, just go to www.annualcreditreport.com, choose one of the three companies, and follow the directions. Based on information in your credit report, they will ask you multiple difficult security questions to make sure that you are who you say you are. I was asked the model of the car I bought two years ago and which bank made me a mortgage loan five years ago (the correct answer to that one was “None of the Above”). After you answer the questions so the company verifies your identity, you can view, download and print your credit report. If you find any errors, follow the credit bureau’s instructions to dispute the incorrect information. If you dispute anything in your credit report, Federal law requires that the credit bureau follow specific procedures to verify the accuracy of the information.
There are three national credit bureaus, so you can rotate your Internet requests among them and get a free credit report every four months. If you request a report and find an error, you should dispute the error. When it is corrected, you should check the other two companies and make sure they do not have the same error.
When you ask for your free report, the company will offer to sell you your credit score, but it is optional. Refusing to buy your credit score will not affect your ability to get a free credit report.