Do you keep track of your credit accounts? When was the last time you checked your annual credit reports? Well, tracking your accounts and analyzing your credit reports regularly goes a long way in helping you improve your credit score.
Typically, federal law gives you access to free credit reports once every twelve months from three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
In this article, we’ll discuss more on credit reports and how you can get your annual credit report from the major credit bureaus.
What Is a Credit Report?
To begin with, let’s first understand what a credit report is and why it is important.
A credit report is a financial report summarizing your personal credit history. It contains your identifying information such as social security number (SNN), name, date of birth, and address, as well as your credit information, including how you settle your debts.
This financial report can affect your borrowing and buying power and even your ability to secure a certain job position or rent a property.
Typically, most lenders scrutinize your credit report anytime you apply for a loan with them to determine whether you qualify for their funding. Some employers also look at your credit report before making a hiring decision.
Having understood what a credit report is, let’s now look at how you can get your annual credit reports from the major credit bureaus.
Step 1: Go to the Correct Site
The quickest, safe and reliable way to get your annual credit report is by visiting the government approved website, Annual Credit Report.com. You can access this site using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.
However, you should be aware of imposter sites that claim to offer free credit reports but later mislead you to sign up for subscriptions or upsell you to their paid services.
Most of these sites have similar sounding names to ‘annual credit report’ so, if you aren’t careful , you may fall into their trap.
Therefore, always double-check your URL to ensure you’re on the right site.
Step 2: Enter Your Personal Information
Once you are on the official website, you can initiate your annual credit report request by filling in your name, date of birth, address, and social security number.
To successfully log in to this site, all of your personal information has to be correct and match with the information in the files.
Step 3: Request a Credit Report or Reports
Now request your credit report (s) from one, two, or all of the three major credit bureaus. The information in the reports can vary, so it’s advisable to review all three reports. You can even decide to request a report from each bureau after every four months to help track your credit report throughout the year.
Step 4: Successfully Answer Security Questions
To access your annual credit reports, you’ll be required to answer a few security questions that only you can answer, such as the approximate amount of your mortgage payment.
However, some people have experienced difficulties answering security questions about accounts that are several years old. If you experience such difficulties, you can request your reports through mail or phone, which is a process that doesn’t involve answering security questions.
Step 5: Generate Your Credit Report Online
Ensure you save your credit reports or print them for easy access when need be. If you aren’t comfortable using the internet to request your credit report, you can order via phone or mail.
To Request Via Phone:
- Call Annual Credit Report via 1-877-322-8228
- Press 1 to submit your credit report request
- Follow the automated verification process
- Your credit report (s) will be mailed to you within 15 days
If you have visual challenges, you can request either audio, large print, or braille reports. Also, if you are deaf or have hearing issues, you can call 7-1-1 then refer the Relay Operator to 1-800-821-7232. It takes about three weeks to get credit reports tailored for the visual and hearing impaired.
To Request Via Mail
- Download and print the annual credit report request form
- Fill out the necessary information, including social security number, name, date of birth, and mailing address
- Seal your filled form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service,
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- After sending the request, your report will be mailed to you within 15 business days
Step 6: Read Your Reports and Fix Errors
After receiving your credit reports, take your time to read through them, looking for any errors. The common errors to watch out for include:
- Accounts that you didn’t authorize or aren’t yours
- Incorrect or negative information
- Negative information that is too old to be included
These types of errors are likely to affect your credit scores. If you find any errors, report it to the credit bureaus for further investigation, verification, and corrections.
Step 7: Monitor Your Credit Regularly
Monitoring your credit report can help you spot problems such as an overlooked payment or a case of identity theft. Seeing your credit activity also helps you track your progress in raising your credit score.
So, monitoring your credit report should be part of your healthy financial habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Get an Experian Credit Report without SSN?
Yes, you can get an Experian credit report without a social security number. In the absence of an SSN, Experian relies on other identification elements such as your name, date of birth, and address for the past two years to compile your credit report.
Although it’s possible to get your Experian credit report without a SSN, it’s advisable to include it in your identification information to ensure you get complete and accurate reports.
Does the IRS Report to Credit Bureaus?
No, the IRS doesn’t report your tax debt to consumer credit bureaus. The law prohibits the IRS from disclosing your tax information to third parties.
However, if a notice of is issued against you, your tax debt becomes a public record, and the IRS can report it to the credit bureaus.
Can the Landlord or Utility Provider Report Utility Bills to Credit Bureaus?
Typically, utility bills aren’t reported to credit bureaus unless they are delinquent and a collection agency is involved. If your utility bills are long overdue, the utility company can forward your details to a collection agency, which then forwards the information to one or more credit bureaus.
Who Pulls TransUnion Credit Reports?
Typically, no bank or credit card issuer exclusively pulls TransUnion credit reports; they can use reports from any of the major credit bureaus. However, some of the common users of Transunion reports include Barclays, Avianca, and Synchrony Bank, to mention a few.
What Is an Equifax Credit Report API?
Equifax credit report API is a tool designed to offer easy and secure access to consumer credit data to companies with permissible access to consumer information. Such companies need to be existing subscribers of or vetted by Equifax or a credit reseller to access consumer credit information.
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