To get your free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228. This is the ONLY source for the free credit reports that are yours by federal law.
There are other sources out there – copycats. Over 130 companies claim to offer free credit reports – and some do. Generally, however, there are strings attached. Some provide a “free” report only if you buy products or services. Others say they’re giving you a “free” report and then bill you for a monthly subscription which you will need to cancel. Remember that www.AnnualCreditReport.com is the real free site.
Getting your credit report isn’t enough. Read through it carefully to check for inaccurate information. Errors can occur. And in this age of identity theft, information on a credit report is often a person’s first clue that someone else is using his or her identity. With each credit report you will receive information on how to dispute inaccurate information and correct errors. Move quickly to dispute any serious errors, such as:
- accounts that aren’t yours;
- reports of late payments when you paid on time;
- bankruptcies older than 10 years (they should be removed after 10 years);
- accounts that were wiped out in bankruptcy but are listed as still due; and
- other negative information that’s older than seven years (the seven-year clock starts 180 days after the account went delinquent).
Remember that the information on your credit report will determine whether you can get credit in the future, and on what terms. In addition, credit report information is considered by prospective landlords and employers, and by insurers deciding whether to provide coverage and what premiums to charge. So it’s very important to make sure the information is accurate. Mark your calendar each year, so you remember to check your credit report!