Knowledge of credit report is very vital in everyone’s financial life. In case you don’t know what a credit report is, I’ll do my best to define it in its simplest form.
A credit report is a financial document prepared by credit reporting agencies which contain information about your credit information and history. Creditors usually require one to provide his/her credit report before a lending decision is made.
The three major credit reporting agencies in the United States are:
Aside from creditors, employers, landlords, now require you to provide your credit report in order to know how reliable you are before they do business with you.
The credit bureaus get their reports from creditors who you’ve worked with in the past. These reports reflects on your credit history, how well you’ve managed your previous credits and other vital information. Information contained in a credit report includes:
- Your account type
- Personal information (Name, addresses, SSN, current & previous employers)
- Current balance
- Credit history
- Balance history
- Payment history
- Collection accounts
- Public record information such as tax liens, bankruptcies, debts, judgments and foreclosures.
In these modern times, it is very important that you frequently check your credit report in order to ensure that all information featured about you are accurate. Because, believe it or not, it could really affect your life concerning future opportunities
According to the 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) — US federal law states that every individual has the right to request a free credit report every twelve months in order to ensure that the information in their credit report is accurate and up to date.
As a result of this law, the 3 main credit reporting bureaus decided to set up AnnualCreditReport.com which serve as an open resource where you can get your credit report from each of three major credit bureaus.
How To Request For Your Credit Report
Before I proceed, I’ll like to tell you that there are three ways in which you can request your credit report. They are;
- Order online from annualcreditreport.com
- Request via phone by calling 1-877-322-8228
- By mail
How To Check Your Annual Credit Report On AnnualCreditReport.com
You’re required to register on AnnualCreditReport.com before you can request your credit report. Part of the details you’ll provide includes; your name, SSN and home address.
After providing your basic details, you’ll be asked to choose your desired credit bureau — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Then you’ll be redirected to the website of the credit bureau you chose earlier where you’ll need to confirm your identity and answer some security questions before accessing your credit report.
Unfortunately, free credit reports obtained from AnnualCreditReport.com does not include your
Aside from the one annual report, everyone is entitled to by US federal law. Some states provide their citizens with an additional credit report.
The states include; Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, and Georgia.
Can I Order More Than One Credit Report In A Calendar Year?
In case you’ve already ordered your free annual credit report and you still wish to request a new one. There are certain instances where you can qualify you for an additional free credit report even after ordering the free version.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows for one to order an extra free credit report pending he/she falls under the category below:
- Individuals on welfare
- Individuals whose application has been denied due to inaccurate information on their credit report
- People who are unemployed and are planning in looking for a job within the next 60 days
- He/she has been denied for credit or a loan
- Victims of identity theft
Other Third-party Sites That Offer Free Credit Report
Apart from the free annual credit report which you can get from AnnualCreditReport.com. Other sites like CreditKarma, Wallethub, and CreditSesame also offer free credit report when you sign up with them.
Note that you’re not to required to provide your credit card details when accessing your credit report from these sites mentioned above.
Actions To Take In Case of Identity Theft
If you feel your identity has been tampered with or someone has been using your personal details to make payments or open accounts etc. You can quickly report on IdentityTheft.gov in order to recover back your identity before much damage is done to it.
Here Are Some Steps To Employ To Protect Your Identity
Credit monitoring: This tracks the activity on credit report provided by the three major credit bureaus. Usually when you monitor your credit report, you’ll receive alerts on the following occasions:
- Instances when someone/company/creditor looks into your credit history
- When you declared bankruptcy
- Instances where a credit card account is opened in your name.
- Basic information about you such as name, phone number and,home address changes.
- There are changes in your credit limit
Identity monitoring: This keeps track of your identity and notifies you when your personal details such as account information, SSN, passport, ISN and, driver’s license etc — are being used elsewhere.
Normally, it keeps tracks of records that wouldn’t normally show on your credit report. Some of these situations include when your name is being used:
- To open a social media account
- In payday loan applications
- To order for wireless, cable and other utilities
By enabling security freeze on your credit report: When this feature is enabled, it will block creditors from accessing your credit report without your consent, hence, keeping identity thieves out.
Setup a fraud alert: You can request request fraud alerts and credit freezes by contacting the three major credit bureaus below:
- How to thaw a credit freeze From Bankrate.com
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