How to Request Your Free Credit Report
You are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs) – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. There is only one official service from which you can obtain the free annual credit report required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This service is provided jointly by the three CRAs but is separate from their other proprietary services.
You may order your free reports online at the official website (annualcreditreport.com) or make your request by toll-free phone call to 877.322.8228. You may also order by mail using the order form included in this useful fact sheet from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Your Access to Free Credit Reports. It explains how to use the service, answers questions, and provides contact information.
For safety we highly recommend that if you wish to order online you click on the link we've provided or link to the official website from the Federal Trade Commission's fact sheet. Dozens of unofficial sites (interested mostly in selling you something) and imposter sites (interested in stealing your personal info) are currently active on the Internet.
If you wish to review your credit report at more frequent intervals you may purchase individual reports from the three major CRAs: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can also space out your credit reports from the three agencies over 12 months. The advantage to ordering all three at the same time is that you can compare them. On the other hand, the advantage of ordering one now and the others later is that you can keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report.
We strongly recommend that you ignore all those ubiquitous offers of “free credit reports” or “free credit scores” – at best they are simply bundling the information (probably dated) you can get directly from the sources and at worst you'll hit a scam site.
Another great way to start learning more about what shape your personal credit is in is by signing up for DCU's FREE FICO Credit Score Service.
Other Criteria for Obtaining a Free Credit Report
Currently any consumer anywhere in the U.S. may also request a free credit report if you've been “denied credit, insurance or employment because of information supplied by a CRA.” You must request the report within 60 days of receiving a denial notice and the party who denied you credit, insurance, or employment must provide the name and address of the CRA.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act also entitles you to a free credit report if you certify in writing that:
- You are unemployed and will be searching for a job within 60 days.
- You are on welfare.
- You are a victim of fraud which has rendered your credit report inaccurate.
Note that credit scores are not included in your free credit report. If you wish to know your score, you may purchase it for a modest fee from FICO (myfico.com) that designed the original system or from any of the big three CRAs.