Obtaining Your Credit Report
Credit reports are a "history" of how a person has handled credit in the past. These reports are used by credit grantors to help make lending decisions based on your credit worthiness, reliability, and financial responsibility. Consumers are urged to check their credit history every one to three years. Be sure you know what is in your credit report before applying for a major loan such as a home mortgage or car loan.
If you apply and are denied credit because of information in your credit file, you have the right under federal law to see whats in your credit file for no charge. You must request the report within 60 days of the denial. If you have not been denied credit within 60 days because of credit history information, copies will carry a small charge, typically $7.00 or less.
A new national law, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 gives all consumers the right to a free credit report annually. However, the free credit report portion of the law will not take effect until early 2005.
There are three major nationwide credit bureaus. Their names are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. All three of the companies charge a small fee per credit report.
Requests to a credit bureau for a report must have your signature and a check or money order to cover the cost of the report. If you want to have the fees waived because you were recently denied credit, include a copy of the denial letter. You must also provide the credit bureau the following information to verify who is making the request and to protect your privacy:
Spouses requiring a joint report should include signatures and information for both persons. The cost of the report may be doubled. The information you provide verifies your right to access the report and protects your privacy.
To get more information, the telephone number for the three major credit bureaus are: for Experian, call 1-800-311-4769; for Equifax, call 1-800-685-1111; for TransUnion, call 1-800-888-4213. Each company will give you directions for obtaining your credit report. You may be able to order the report over the telephone and charge it to your credit card. You can also order your credit report over the Internet at www.experian.com; www.equifax.com; www.transunion.com. Some of these websites only offer a combined 3-in-1 credit report that combines the reports of all three credit reporting agencies for $35 - $40.