Federal law – the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 – gives you the right to a free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
There are a lot of impostor websites on the internet promising to give your free annual credit report. These sites typically request your credit card information and enroll you in a trial membership to a credit monitoring service. If you don’t cancel the trial, your credit card will end up getting charged for a full period of the credit monitoring service.
The true website for ordering your annual credit report doesn’t require a credit card and doesn’t ask you to sign up for any trial subscription. You can order your annual credit report and receive it the same day.
3 Ways to Order Your Annual Credit Report
1) To order your annual credit report online, visit annualcreditreport.com. If you are suspicious about a link to the legitimate annual credit report website, you can type the address directly into your web browser making sure not to misspell the address.
2) You can also order your annual credit report over the phone by calling 1-877-322-8228. If you choose this option, there will be a verification process to ensure you (and not someone else) are actually ordering your credit report. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call 1-800-821-7232 to order your annual credit report.
3) Finally, you can order your annual credit report via mail. To do this, you should first download and print an annual credit report request form. The form requires an Adobe viewer. Once you have completed the form, you can mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
When you order by phone or mail, you will receive your annual credit report via mail within 2 to 3 weeks.
You must order your annual credit report using one of the methods listed above. You cannot receive your government-granted annual credit report directly from the credit bureaus. Note that all the credit bureaus have a free credit report offer, but these offers require a credit card and you may not be able to order another free credit report next year.
You can order all three annual credit reports at one time or you can space them out over the year. For example, you might order your Equifax annual credit report in April, Experian in August, TransUnion in December, and start over with Equifax the next April. This allows you to monitor your credit reports throughout the entire year.
If you find inaccurate or questionable items on your credit you should file a credit report dispute immediately. The bureaus will investigate the item and verify it and if they can not verify the bad credit item then the bureau must fix your credit report. You can do this yourself or you may want to consider a credit repair agency to do it on your behalf.