Free Credit Reports
Where to get a free credit check
American law dictates that every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Thus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will, at your request, provide you with a free credit report online or in hard copy form.
Why You Should Get Free Credit Reports
The information contained in your credit report has a direct affect on whether or not you get approved for loans or credit cards and can even influence your chances of being approved for an apartment or a job. You need to know what's contained in your credit file so there are no surprises if a bank, agency or employer needs to do a credit check.
Moreover, doing a periodic free credit check allows you to spot inaccuracies that may be affecting your score, and it helps you decide what actions to take to improve your credit score if it's too low. Getting a free personal credit check helps you become a more conscientious and responsible consumer — studies show that people who regularly monitor their credit scores are far less likely to spiral into debt they can't manage or declare bankruptcy.
How to Get a Free Credit Check
To view your free credit score, you need to submit a written request — in hard copy or electronically — to one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Consumer credit experts suggest that you use the law to your advantage; each of the three major agencies must provide you with a free credit report once a year. Here's how to maximize value: let's say you get your first free credit report from Experian in March. Come July, submit your request to TransUnion. Then, in November, get your free credit check from Equifax. This allows you to monitor your credit rating throughout the year without spending a dime.
Be aware that you will be asked to provide sensitive personal information in order to access free credit reports from the major credit monitoring agencies. If you don't feel comfortable submitting the required information online, put your request in a letter. Hard copies of your credit report will be mailed to your current address.
You should also keep in mind that some information may not be reported to all three agencies, so your credit score can vary significantly from one agency to the next. Look closely for inaccurate, incomplete or incorrect information if your score is far lower than you think it should be on one of your free credit reports.