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The three major consumer reporting companies, namely Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, sell consumer credit report to firms and financial institutions with whom we apply for loan or credit. And to ensure the privacy and accuracy of information that will be provided in our credit report, the Federal Trade Commission, which is the governing body, implemented the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA. Thanks to the FCRA, Individuals may now get their free credit report online via www.annualcreditreport.com once a year.
If you're someone who owns a couple of credit cards or has an outstanding loan from a bank or financial institution, then you should know that your credit history was referenced by your lenders. A credit history or credit report is a document which presents information regarding a person's financial standing. It gives companies providing credit facility an insight about your past and current financial obligations and your payment patterns. Your credit report provides firms the access to information which determines if you are eligible for a loan or a credit card from a financing company.
Since our credit reports determine our fate in terms of getting a loan, buying a car on credit, or renting a house, we need to make sure that the information seen in our credit history report is current and accurate. Acquiring a free credit report every 12 months may save you from wondering why the interest rate on your loan is quite high or your credit card application was declined.
Being able to accesss our personal information reported on our free credit reports, we can determine and identify erroneous information on the reports or even check for unauthorized credit activity to make sure that we are not victims of identity theft.
To get your free credit report, you'll need to provide basic personal details such your name, home address, date of birth, and social security number. Depending on the company credit bureau where you want to obtain your credit report, the additional information you may be asked may differ.
The three largest nationwide consumer reporting companies have collaborated and set-up a centralized website, mailing address, and toll-free number for you to obtain your free credit report.
The only authorized website by law wherein you can get free credit reports is at www.annualcreditreport.com. All the three biggest credit bureaus in the US will respond to your annual credit report request through this website only; therefore, it is no use to contact these credit bureaus directly.
Watch out for websites that pretend to be a provider of free credit report, credit monitoring, or free credit score. It is most likely that these phoney sites will ask you to to pay for credit history report after an undergoing trial period. These imposter websites may also ask you to enter personal information on their webpage in order to use it for their own benefit. Keep in mind that the offiicial website annualcreditreport.com will not ask for your personal details via email. Should you get an email, encounter a pop-up, or talk to someone who claims to represent the annualcreditreport.com or any of the three reporting companies, report your concerns to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.
Once you have submitted a request for your free credit report via the official website, www.annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to access your free report instantly. If you call the toll-free number or use the mail order form, your free credit score and credit history will be available in approximately 15 days upon receipt of the request.
In case of further verification regarding your identity is required by the credit bureaus to release your free credit report or there is a high volume of free credit score requests, it may take more than 15 days before you can get your report. And if you would not receive your annual free credit report in 15 days, the credit bureaus will definitely contact you regarding the delay.
No system is 100% perfect and reliable. So there are instances wherein you might find some erroneous information in your free credit report, especially if the information in your report imposes negative impact and affects your credit score negatively. According to the FCRA, the credit bureau and the provider of the information (the company or organization that report your details to the credit consumer reporting company) are accountable for the errors and should take action to correct any false or inaccurate information on your credit history. As a result, it's best to contact both parties to immediately amend and adjust the incorrect details. It is recommended to send a written request to the consumer reporting company and the financial companies regarding the details of your dispute instead of contacting them via the toll-free numbers. Also, you should not forget to include your contact information together with the amendment or dispute. It often takes about 30 days for consumer credit bureaus to resolve a dispute and get back to you.
According to the FACT Act, any disputed report will not be considered as your free credit report. You can request for your free report again after the resolution of the dispute is acted upon and completed by the relevant party.
It's up to you on how you want to request your free credit report since all three nationwide consumer reporting companies provide them annually. You can either request from all three credit bureaus at one time, or you can do it separtely within the year to monitor the accuracy of the information that will appear on your credit reports.
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