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Your credit report is a very important financial document, containing details of all your financial transactions. It is, therefore, essential to check it at least once in a year and more frequently, if you wish to stay put with your credit. To review your credit report, you have to first acquire it. The process is very simple.
There are three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, which are responsible for collecting all financial information about you. This information is collected from major banks, lenders, utility services, employers and many other institutions with whom you transact financially on a regular basis.
The Fair and Accurate Transactions Act has empowered every American citizen to be able to get a copy of his or her free annual credit report on request from the three credit bureaus. You can place your request by phone, certified mail or online at the official website, AnnualCreditReport.com.
It takes fifteen days for the free annual credit report to reach you, when the order is placed over phone or by mail. But if the order is placed online, then the report can be accessed instantly on verification of a few personal details. The report is available free of cost and you can get one report from each of the credit bureaus.
If you wish to access your credit report again, under normal circumstances you will have to pay a nominal free. But there are certain conditions, under which you are entitled to get a free credit report more than once in a year, if:
- You have been denied credit;
- You have been turned down for a job;
- You are unemployed and propose to look for a job within the next 60 days, and have given a written certificate to the effect;
- You are on welfare; and
- You are a victim of identity theft and the matter has been reported.
It is recommended that when you apply for your free annual credit report, you access the same from all the three credit bureaus. Many people do not do so. They apply for a credit report from one bureau at a time, spreading the three reports over the entire year. If you avail only one report at a time, it is like reviewing only one third of your credit report. The other two reports may contain information that this report may not. If you compare all the three reports at the same time, you will be able to locate any errors and be able to dispute them.