If you want to learn how to get your free credit report you will need to create accounts and provide your personal information on certain websites in order to access your accurate credit report. Make sure you have all your personal information ready and we will walk you through how to get a free copy of your credit report.
What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report is a thorough history of your finances. The information inside will include how much money you have borrowed in the past and any late payments or defaults from those loans. With this information, future lenders can judge whether or not they want to give you more credit. The credit information is evaluated by the three main credit bureaus. The items you can see on your credit report include:
- Payment history
- Types of credit accounts
- Current balances
- Any derogatory items you might have (bankruptcies, foreclosures, collections)
- Summary of account totals
- Total debt that is owed
- Personal information (name, addresses, SSN, date of birth)
Credit reports are one of the most important aspects to our financial lives. They are used by employers, landlords, mortgage lenders and credit card companies when they’re deciding whether or not you deserve a good interest rate on loans or credit cards. Knowing your credit report is crucial in today’s society where jobs can be hard to come by and rent has sky rocketed. But did you know that it is possible to get your credit report for free? I’ll tell you how!
How To Get Your Free Credit Report
There are several places you can go to get your credit report for free or access to all three of your credit scores. Accessing your credit report is the first and most important step in repairing your credit or if you are applying for a mortgage. The places you can get your free credit report are:
- Credit Karma
- Credit Sesame
The first place you should visit in your search for free credit reports is AnnualCreditReport.com, which was created by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to meet federal law requirements that allow us access to our own personal credit information once every 12 months at no cost. This website is also mandated by the FCRA to provide you with a free credit report, or at least offer it to you for free.
1. Go to annualcreditreport.com and find the red button that says “Request your free credit reports”.
2. Fill out the form to request your credit reports. This form will ask for your personal information such as name, birthday, Social Security Number, current address, and second address if you have haven’t lived there for more than 2 years, and other personal information about your identity so have this information ready.
3. Pick The credit reports you would like. You can pick one, two or all three from the major credit bureaus. You get one free report from each credit bureau but you don’t need to pull all three at the same time. Should you pull all three credit reports at one time or space them out?
If you are preparing to make a big purchase such as a house or a car, you should pull all three reports at together at once. You want to do this because you need to make sure all the information from each credit bureau is accurate before you get a quote, pre-approved for a home loan and interest rate.
If you don’t have plans to make a big purchase but just want to access your credit report it’s a good idea to spread them out over time especially if you have bad credit. You’ll want to keep an eye on your credit reports throughout the year so spacing them out for every four months is a great way to stay on track.
4. Request and Review your personal information with each credit bureau you selected.
5. Save your report as a pdf so you can go back and review it for the rest of the year and compare it with the other credit bureau reports.
Important Note: If you close out of the page where you view your credit report without saving it you might not be able to get it back so make sure you save it.
6. Move on to the next credit report if you have requested more than one of the credit bureaus. You will need to repeat these steps for each credit bureau report you have requested.
Once all of these are complete you will have your free credit report from all three credit bureaus.
Annualcreditreport.com is the best place to access all three of your credit reports but not the only place to get your free credit report. Credit Karma is a free credit monitoring app that allows you to access two of the three credit scores (Equifax and TransUnion) monthly and access to your credit reports at anytime.
1. To sign up with Credit Karma, go to this link and create your free account.
2. After filling out your personal information and confirming your identity you will be brought to your dashboard.
3. Your dashboard will show you your VantageScore (which is different than your FICO score) which shows your information from Equifax and TransUnion but not Experian.
4. When you click on your credit score, it will take you to a new page which shows you a four month snapshot of your VantageScore and it allows you to go back and forth to see both your credit reports.
5. Click on “Credit Report” to see your free credit report.
6. Save and print your credit report to access it at a later time.
Related: Credit Karma vs FICO Score
You can access your free credit report from Experian through the Experian website. When you sign up for account you will get Experian credit report and FICO score along with credit monitoring and alerts, free dark web surveillance report to help prevent your identity from being stolen as well as recommendations for credit cards and loans.
1. Go to the Experian website to create an account.
2. Enter all of your personal information and verify your identity.
3. Once everything is completed and they can verify your identity you will have access to view your Experian credit report. You will also have access to your FICO scores and see what is impacting your score and how to improve it plus free credit monitoring.
Credit Sesame is another credit monitoring app that allows you to access your credit report for free. Credit Sesame is one of the leading credit apps that focus on identity theft by offering you free identity theft insurance of 1 million dollars.
1. Go to the Credit Sesame website and enter your email address to get started.
2. Create an account. You will need to create a password to make an account or if you already have an account login.
3. Fill in your personal information and confirm your identity.
4. Access your free credit report.
Where Can I Get My Credit Scores For Free?
You can get you free credit scores in many places but the places above are the only places that will give you full details on your credit reports. If you just want to know what your credit scores are you can access them for free from banks and credit card companies below:
- American Express (FICO)
- Bank of America (FICO)
- Barclaycard (FICO)
- Capital One (TransUnion)
- Chase (FICO)
- Citibank (FICO)
- Discover (FICO)
- Wells Fargo (FICO)
There are other credit monitoring apps that will give you more in depth information but they do require memberships in order to access that information. myFICO offers monthly packages that gives you detailed information about your FICO scores which is a great option for those who are looking at buying a home or a car as 90% of lenders use FICO scores to determine your creditworthiness. There plans start at $19.95 and go up to $39.95 per month.
Related: myFICO Review Credit Monitoring App
How Many Free Credit Reports Do You Get Each Year?
You have the right to access one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
However, there are a few exceptions when you are entitled to receive one additional credit report:
- If you suspect you are the victim of credit fraud
- If you are unemployed, but plan to apply for jobs over the next 60 days
- If you have been denied credit or given risk-based loan terms
- If you receive welfare
What Do You Do After You Receive Your Free Credit Reports?
After your receive your free credit reports , you should check them for accuracy.
If the credit report is incorrect, or if you find an account that doesn’t belong to you on your credit reports, contact each of the three major credit bureaus and work to have it corrected as soon as possible!
Some incorrect information to look for is:
- Incorrect name (first, last, maiden)
- Incorrect addresses (current and previous)
- Incorrect Social Security Number
- Hard inquiries you don’t know, or authorize
- Dates of accounts opened or closed
- Incorrect tradelines (car loans, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards)
- Incorrect bankruptcy information (has it been reporting more than 7 to 10 years)
If you think your identity has been stolen then you should contact the credit bureaus and report the identity fraud and freeze your credit.
Related: What Are Tradelines?
What Are The Three Credit Bureaus?
The three major companies that provide these reports are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each credit bureau is different and separate from the others so not all three credit bureaus will be reporting the same information.
The credit bureaus report financial information gathered from lenders such as banks and credit card companies to evaluate your creditworthiness. Each lender reports to different credit bureaus so that is why you might have three completely different credit scores from each credit bureau.
How Do I Report A Problem With My Credit Report?
If you notice an issue with your credit report you can contact the credit bureaus by phone or mail a dispute letter detailing the issue and providing proof of the error. We provide free dispute letters here and tell you the exact steps you need to follow to dispute any information from your credit report here.
Phone Numbers For Credit Bureaus:
Equifax – 800-685-1111 (NY residents use 800-349-9960)
Experian -888–397–3742 (TX residents use 512– 672–1599)
TransUnion – 800-916-8800 (PA residents use 800-493-2392)
After you have disputed an item from our credit report you should monitor your credit scores monthly to make sure everything is reporting accurately. Use credit monitoring apps like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and myFICO to monitor your credit reports and to see what might be negatively impacting your credit score.
You are allowed to access your free credit report once a year for each credit bureau. Once you have access to your free credit reports, look through them to see if all your information is reporting accurately. If you notice any inaccurate information you can dispute these items to get them removed from your credit report. If you have bad credit you should monitor your credit scores monthly to stay on top of your credit with credit monitoring apps.
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