The three free credit reports consumers may request per year provide important information and a means to help consumers protect against identity fraud. The information contained is invaluable.As a consumer, you may request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus every twelve months. Accessing and reviewing your credit reports from each of the three bureaus annually helps you ensure the accuracy of the information. It also allows you to monitor your account history to protect against identity theft.
Obtaining Your Credit Report
To find out how to get your annual credit report from each bureau, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. This site helps consumers obtain their free credit reports as required by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). To request your free credit reports on-line at the site, you will need to provide specific information, including your name, social security number and address. You will then be asked to select which of the credit bureaus you want to obtain your report from:
You will also be required to answer a set of questions to verify your identity. The information contained in these questions comes directly from your credit reports.
You can obtain a credit report from each of these agencies without charge one time per 12-month period. To create ongoing protection for yourself, consider obtaining one report every four months. This ensures you can consistently monitor your accounts.
How to Use Your 3 Credit Reports
Once you obtain a copy of your reports, you'll be able to see what potential creditors and other permitted parties see about your credit history. This information will help potential creditors decide if they should lend to you. The reports contain the following types of information:
• Your name and address
• Your current open accounts, including balances, payment history and highest balance
• Your closed accounts, unless they are over seven years old
• Records of inquiries by all parties that obtained a credit report on you from that credit bureau
• Public records occurring in the last 10 years
You can also follow the instructions provided on the site to report any inaccuracies in your report. You will not receive a copy of your credit score with your free annual credit reports. To request your credit score, you need to visit the website of one of the three credit bureaus and generally pay a fee to do so.
Why Check Your Report?
By checking your credit reports regularly, you may verify their accuracy. If you find inaccuracies, you should report them to the appropriate credit bureau so that they will not impact your credit profile. Additionally, knowing what is on your credit reports may help you make proper credit decisions about your future.
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