January 13th, 2018 9:14 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
For more than a decade now, federal law has allowed U.S.
consumers to obtain a free credit report each year. Since many people don’t
know exactly how this works, let’s review a brief history of this law, where to
get your free credit report, exactly what credit report data you’ll get for
free, and which “free credit report” services to avoid.
ability for anyone in this country to obtain a free credit report each year was
created by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. FACTA, as the law came
to be known, was an amendment to a 1970 law called the Fair Credit Reporting
Act, and was signed into law in December 2003.
the time it became law, FACTA was enforced by the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC), but enforcement has since been transferred to the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was created in July 2011 in response to the
2007-2008 financial crisis to consolidate all the government’s consumer-facing
financial protection agencies under one umbrella.
FACTA, the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — set
up a site called AnnualCreditReport.com to serve as the official source for
consumers to get their free credit report once per year.
get your free credit report once per year, visit AnnualCreditReport.com,
and request your report.
In addition to ordering your credit report on the web, you can also request it
by calling 877-322-8228, or obtain it by mail by filling out this form, and sending it to:
Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
you order it online, by phone or through the mail, you will be asked to provide
the following information to obtain your free credit report:
report you’ll get from this free annual service includes your credit history
and a summary of open and closed accounts. It’s ideal for monitoring your
credit on an ongoing basis to ensure there aren’t any irregular activities on
of irregular activity can include:
your free credit report each year can help you monitor and control these items
in advance of any home loan or other credit approval.
you do find something wrong with your credit report, you’ll be instructed to
contact the original creditor, or the credit bureau that posted the error or
irregularity. You should do so immediately.
Your mortgage lender can
also be a good resource to advise on credit report items you’re questioning.
the numerous advertisements and websites you see in the marketplace,
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place to get your free credit report, and
the only source that’s guaranteed to do so by law.
other services that are advertised as free usually have hidden fees of some
sort. According to the CFPB, some sites will only give you a free report if you
buy other products or services. Others give you a free report, then bill you
for services you have to cancel later.
also important to note that the AnnualCreditReport.com service doesn’t provide
credit scores, and credit scores are required to start getting mortgage rate quotes.
more information on your credit scores and how they impact the home lending
process, also read our primer on Understanding
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