Your Credit Report: Some Things in Life are Free

6/23/2017 - By Jennifer Paradise, CRCM

Your credit history plays a key role in so many things (e.g., loan approvals, apartment leasing, job opportunities, etc.) that it's crucial to ensure the information in your credit report is correct.  You are entitled by law to a FREE copy of your credit report from all three consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months.  You can obtain the report through one of the following ways:

  • Online: Annual Credit Report
  • By Phone: 1-877-322-8228
  • By Mail: Download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request form from the web site and mail it to the address provided.

Credit Report vs. Credit Score

Your free annual credit report does not include your credit scores.  You will have an opportunity to obtain your scores for a small fee; however, the scores you receive are not necessarily going to be the same scores your lender will see when they pull your credit report because your score is driven by a number of factors and is calculated based on a complex mathematical algorithm (that's a topic for another blog post perhaps).  In the meantime, there are rules lenders must follow as it pertains to providing consumers with credit scores.  The score must be provided if the lender used the score to make its decision, as well as the key factors that adversely affected your credit score.

There are a number of providers who claim to offer "free" credit scores; however, they are typically associated with credit monitoring or identity theft protection services, which often involve monthly fees/charges. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only truly free site dedicated solely for the purpose of facilitating a way for consumers to get their credit report from all three consumer reporting agencies.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

When reviewing your credit report, it is important to submit a dispute if you spot inaccuracies or suspicious activity (like accounts you are unaware of or inquiries from places in which you did not apply for credit), as it can be helpful in catching signs of identity theft. Your report will include instructions on how to file a dispute with the consumer reporting agencies.

If you are a parent, you might be asking if you can/should request the credit report of your minor child.  It's not a bad idea to consider doing this, as identity thieves have been known to use the information of minor children to get access to credit and the child may never become aware of it until he/she applies for credit for the first time.  You can learn more and get instructions on how to obtain the credit report of a minor child here.

For valuable answers to frequently asked questions concerning credit reports and scores, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your credit report, score, or how it could impact your finances, email me or contact a member of our Financial Institutions Consulting Team.

About the Author | Jennifer Paradise, CRCM

Jennifer is a consultant in the Financial Institutions Advisory Group at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund and has been serving the financial institutions industry since 1990. She is primarily involved in performing fair lending, loan internal audit, loan compliance, and other consulting services for the firm's financial institution clients throughout the region. 

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