In this article, we’ll show you the best ways to get a free credit report on yourself!
Are you thinking of making a big purchase within the next year…but aren’t sure how your credit will stack up? It can be nerve wracking to think of buying a car or purchasing a home when you aren’t sure if your credit is good enough to get the financing you will need.
You may also be concerned about how your history looks overall. After all, in today’s world of cyber security breaches, it is becoming increasingly simple for people to hack into our online accounts, make some purchases, and mess with our finances. It’s natural to want to check your history every so often to make sure that everything is as it should be.
Luckily, there are ways to get a free credit report on yourself that many people don’t know about. Although there are a lot of organizations that seem to charge for a report and/or a background check (which is another great piece of information to have on yourself), there are also many places you can get this same information for free.
In this article, we’ll go over the ins and outs of credit reports and help you figure out how to get one free.
Why get a free credit report?
While many people are intimately familiar with a credit score, it’s often less clear exactly what is contained in a report and why it may be helpful to have it.
A report contains more than just one number that gives a snapshot of your overall credit (called, of course, the score). In your credit report, you’ll find the big picture of your specific credit. This includes all of the following:
- Your personal information:
Name (of course), date of birth, address, Social Security number, and even your employment information are all contained within your summary. While these are not relevant to how you are assessed, they are obviously helpful in ensuring accurate information for yourself and for any creditors.
- Credit accounts:
This portion contains information about the type of credit cards you have open, as well as any other loans. For example, if you have one Visa, one Mastercard, and a mortgage, all of these things will be listed in this section of your credit report. This section also contains information about when you received the specific accounts, how much you owe, whether you’ve paid on time in the past, and how much your limit is for any open credit cards.
- Credit inquiries:
Did you know it’s not just your actual credit that matters – it’s also how much you’ve checked in to see if you can get more credit. This section of the credit report deals with credit “inquiries” – or all the times within the past two years you’ve applied for loans, new cards, or certain types of financing.
- Public record information:
This section of the report contains public information directly related to your finances. For example, here you’ll find information about foreclosures, liens and bankruptcies.
- Your personal information:
Why get your free report?
It’s always a good idea to check on your details from time to time to make sure everything is as it should be. Even something you had no idea about, like a fraudulently opened line of credit, can make a huge difference on your report!
Rather than be surprised the next time you are applying for something that requires good credit, it’s better to be on top of exactly what’s happening with your credit report as much as you can. This way, if you spot any issues, you’ll be able to start working on getting them corrected before they negatively affect your life.
How to get your free summary
Now that you know what’s in your summary and why it may be important, let’s talk about how you can go about getting your free report. Annualcreditreport.com
Most people don’t know that there are only three “official” reporting agencies. The names of these reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Because there are only three official reporting agencies, they banded together to create a website where consumers can easily access their own details.
At Annualcreditreport.com, you are entitled to get one free report every twelve months from each of the companies. You don’t have to get one from each, you could just get one credit report, but it might be beneficial to do one from each. Why would you want one from each? Well, they each have slightly different information.
Experian gives you information back for almost 7 years – 81 months to be exact. It’s most important feature is that it lets you know when something is no longer going to matter for your credit – i.e. over a long time, certain things stop mattering to your credit history. Experian gives you this information
Equifax also gives information for 81 months back. It tells you what accounts are open and closed, as well as your “behavior” on each of the accounts (i.e., did you pay on time, were any accounts overdue, etc.)
TransUnion gives detailed monthly information, such as balances and payment, rather than just overall information for the specific accounts. They also let you update employment information directly through their website – a helpful perk!
When you go to annualcreditreport.com, you can request to have the report sent to you online or by mail. The federal Fair Credit Report Act says that you are entitled to this information once every 12 months.
Keep in mind that annualcreditreport.com is the only “official” source of reporting information. There are other websites that will allow you to get a free credit report, or a portion of the information that makes up a free credit report, but annualcreditreport.com is the only one put together by the three big reporting agencies and it’s recommended by the FTC,, or Federal Trade Commission. If you’d like, you can even call at 1-877-322-8228.
Check in with your credit every so often to make sure everything looks right and that you’re on track to continue your good credit history. It’s easy, free, and you’ll be glad you did.