The three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—are required by federal law to provide you with a free annual credit report. In fact, AnnualCreditReport.com was created by the credit bureaus as a one-stop-shop for providing your annual credit reports.
When ordering your free annual credit report, you have the flexibility to request all three of your reports at once, or you can space them out over the course of the year.
When reviewing your credit report, you should check it for accuracy. Here is a list of personal and financial details you should verify:
If you find information that you do not believe to be accurate, contact the business that issued the account or the credit reporting company that issued the report.
If you order all of your reports at once, you’ll be able to compare them easily. You will be able to verify information common to all three reports, as well as distinguish the minor differences, such as creditors that report to TransUnion but not Equifax. The downside to this strategy is that you won’t be able to order your free reports again for a full calendar year. If this doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, you can opt for staggering your requests. One of the advantages to this strategy is that you will be able to track and verify new information being added to your reports, such as new accounts or loans.
Your credit report includes instructions on how to dispute inaccurate information. In most cases, you have to provide your credit bureau with a written statement regarding the information you are disputing. The credit bureau will then open an investigation with the creditor listed on your report. When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau is required to provide you with a written report of the outcome, as well as an updated copy of your credit report. If the dispute is ruled in your favor, the creditor must provide adjusted information to all three credit bureaus. In cases of identity theft, you should also file a police report.
What You Need to Know:
There are various types of credit scores, and lenders use a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions. The credit score you receive is based on the VantageScore 3.0 model and may not be the credit score model used by your lender.
*$24.95 per month (plus tax where applicable).