The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) requires credit bureaus to provide consumers access to free credit reports once every 12 months.
The three credit bureaus provide access to these reports through the only federally mandated website jointly operated by them: AnnualCreditReport.com.
This is the only website mandated by federal law to get a free copy of your credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can request your credit reports from each bureau once every 12 months.
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Free credit scores and credit monitoring services
There is a growing number of companies offering access to free credit scores along with a credit report card. This report card presents information found in your credit report within the app.
These apps are great but I highly recommend that you continue to get your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. The information on your actual credit reports may differ from the report cards.
A key benefit of these report cards are the tools that help you understand factors that impact your score. It also helps alert you of changes in your report more easily. However, most these credit monitoring apps work with one credit bureau.
Credit Karma is unique in offering access with reports from two credit bureaus along with 2 scores. You can find other free credit score apps in the financial marketplace.
How to get credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com
The AnnualCreditReport.com website isn’t pretty. However, accessing your credit report is quite easy. There are three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You are able to pull all 3 credit reports from these credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com.
The report you receive from AnnualCreditReport.com should be scrutinized for accuracy. This is your opportunity to verify the information and dispute any inaccuracies and correct any errors.
Tips to access your free credit report
- Double-check the website URL: www.AnnualCreditReport.com
- Don’t input your credit card. If you’re entering your credit card to access your credit report, then you’re on the wrong credit report website. Again, no credit card input needed at the correct website.
- Get a credit report from one bureau at a time. Don’t pull all 3 credit reports at once. The amount of information you’ll need to sift through can be quite daunting.
- Choose one credit bureau. Request the report online. Review the information.
- Dispute inaccuracies online. All disputes must be resolved within 30 days.
Once you’re satisfied with the credit report, pull the next credit report, and follow the steps above once again.
Follow these steps until you’ve reviewed and corrected all three credit reports.
After you’ve requested your reports for the first time, make it a process to request a copy of your reports from each bureau once a year. Set a calendar reminder that repeats indefinitely.
Moving Forward: Review reports quarterly
I find that once you’ve got a handle on your credit reports you can pull your new credit report once every 4 months. For example, in January request your Experian report, then in May request your Equifax report, and in October request your TransUnion credit report.
This helps you get access to reports throughout the year. However, I recommend using a free credit monitoring service to help you monitor your credit report. This way if you’re alerted about changes you can dispute the information with the bureau, request a credit freeze, or place a fraud alert within your credit files.
Credit scores are a different story
FACTA and FCRA are federal laws that govern access to credit reports and the process of disputes by consumers. These laws give you the rights to access a free copy of your credit report but it does not include access to credit scores.
When you request your free copy of your credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com you may be asked if you’d like your credit score.
In fact, when you pull your free credit reports, the credit bureaus may offer, for a fee, a credit score. Unless you want to pay for your score, you can always check our marketplace to find a free credit score app.