FACTA which is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. guarantees your right to obtain one free credit report annually. You can order your free report from each of the reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, every year. I will go over your rights as a consumer and the exact steps you need to take to obtain your reports.
In the US, there are three credit reporting bureaus that have set up a website where you can access your annual reports. There is also a toll-free telephone number and a mailing address if you do not want to do this over the internet, where you can order your free annual report. Many other sources are available to order your report but they may require a credit card to access it. You should never need to use a credit card to access your annual credit report.
You can get your credit report from many places but the only authorized site to go to is AnnualCreditReport.com.
Free Annual Credit Reports and Federal Law
FACTA is an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FTC and the three major credit reporting bureau set up the website AnnualCreditReport.com to provide free access to annual credit reports for consumers. This government oversite was important to consumers.
- Get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.
- Ensure that the information on all of your credit reports is correct and up to date.
Pin It For Later!
More recently, in 2020, everyone in the U.S. can now get 6 free credit reports from Equifax every year until the year 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your free annual credit report does not include credit scores.
Consumers should be monitoring their credit reports on a regular basis. In this day and age identity theft and other threats are of serious concern to consumers. This is an important part of being responsible but also important so you are in control of your finances. You can learn more about why this matters to your financial health and ways to improve your credit score, correcting mistakes, improving your score and identity theft on AnnualCreditReport.com.
There are other times you are entitled to an additional free credit report. Even if you have already received your free annual report you can access it under certain rules. Here are a few scenarios where you’re entitled to receive your report again:
- If you’re unemployed but plan to apply for jobs over the next 60 days
- You are receiving welfare
- If you suspect you’re the victim of credit fraud
- When you’ve been denied credit with an adverse action letter or given risk-based loan terms
An Adverse Action Notice
If you have received an adverse action notice, a letter explaining your credit application was denied, is also an opportunity for you to take control of your credit and deal with any issues.
You will have 60 days from the time you were denied credit to retrieve your additional free report. As part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, this forced lenders to include the consumer’s credit score in any adverse action notification. This is the letter you receive when you are denied credit.
As part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you’re entitled to a free credit report if you got an adverse action notice in the last 60 days. Your credit report lists your full credit history, which was likely a part of the lender’s decision.
Once you have obtained your most recent credit report, make sure all the information listed in your report is correct. Then, make a plan to build your credit health based on what’s in your report so you can set yourself up for future success.
The Exact Steps You Need To Take To Get Your Free Credit Report
Once you have accessed AnnualCreditReport.com you will click Request Yours Now!
Once you click Request Your Credit now you will be directed to the next step. Click on the red button Request Your Credit Reports.
Next, you will fill out this form to request your free credit reports. It is much lengthier than what appears here. You will need previous addresses so you may want to have your records available.
Choose all three reports to get a global view of your credit or just one bureau if you want to pull them individually.
Should you order all three reports now or spread them out over time?
This will depend on your current situation and why you needed to order your credit report in the first place.
If you have been denied credit or if you are thinking about borrowing funds for a large purchase you may want to get all of your credit reports now. That way you can correct any mistakes on all of them before you apply. Being prepared for the lending process is important and it is easier to deal with these issues before you go to the bank. When you are making a large purchase such as a car or a home it can be the difference between getting denied or approved. It takes time to repair your credit.
If you are not preparing a large purchase, you can spread out ordering the different reports throughout the year so you can keep on top of errors. Even though this can take some effort to stay on top of things, you can keep on top of errors when you check your reports periodically throughout the year.
Either way, you should keep track of when you make your requests on your calendar so you know when you can request your next free credit report after a year.
This is where you will begin to verify your information with the first bureau. Transunion will be the first report to show up in your request. If you have selected all three credit reports to be pulled you will need to fill out an individual form for each reporting bureau.
Each bureau will need to verify your identity so you will need to be prepared with your information before you get here. There will be a test!
They will ask questions similar to these below. They will be tricky to ensure it is really you requesting your credit. As an example, I have lived in Indian River County for most of my life. But I did not live in Indian River County in 1995.
Have you ever lived in the following counties in 1995?
- Indian River
- None of the above
What was your most recent mortgage payment?
- None of the above
These are just some of the questions they will ask. They will be multiple choice and if you have a lot of credit lines or accounts it can be difficult to remember the exact details.
It is important that you are prepared with automobile loan, mortgage, residency and credit card information before you start. If you get one answer wrong you will receive an error message that requires you to call or write the bureaus.
If you answer the questions correctly you will be able to view your reports.
Upon viewing your report online, we strongly recommend that you print or save it in a PDF format before you close the window. Once you leave the site as it will only be available to you during your current session.
Once you have reviewed and saved your credit report from Transunion you will move on to the other two bureaus to obtain those reports. Once you are finished with all three reporting bureaus you will have your complete credit file saved in a PDF or printed out.
What Happens If I Am Denied Access To My Credit Report?
If for some reason you do not get the answers correct you will be directed to a contact form. You will need to go through a different process to verify your identity and you will not be able to review your credit report until that is resolved.
You will fill out the form below. Most likely you will have to send a copy of your license and other verifying information.
There are “Imposter” Websites Offering Free Reports
When you do your initial web search you will find many imposter sites. Other websites that claim to offer these services are typically only offering a free trial period and require a credit card for “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” These sites are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program offered by the three bureaus. If you do not cancel during their trial period your card will be charged and you agreed to that. I don’t know how many people I have helped at the bank who had their money taken because either they forgot to cancel or the company did not honor their request for cancellation.
According to AnnualCreditReport.com there are even sites that use common terms in their website names to cause confusion. In the past, some of these unscrupulous companies have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site.
Many of these sites will try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
It is really important that you avoid these sites and utilize AnnualCreditReport.com to avoid someone getting your personal information.
Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide credit reporting companies will never send you any email correspondence or call you asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It is most likely a scam.