Federal law dictates that consumers are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — once every 12 months. Lots of websites claim to give you free credit reports. However, many times you must sign up for another paid service in order to obtain your “free” report. The only website authorized under federal law to provide free credit reports is www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
It’s also important to note that the credit reports you obtain for free from this site do not include a credit score. Each of the three bureaus will try to sell you paid services to get your credit score. However, you can get your truly free credit score right here on WisePiggy. Then you can get both your credit reports and your credit score for free!
How to get your report
Once you’re on the AnnualCreditReport.com home page, click the red button that says “request your free credit reports.”
From there, you will be rerouted to a landing page explaining the three steps you’ll need to take to get your credit reports.
Click on the red “request your credit reports” button to get started. Fill out a form with your name, birthday, Social Security number and current address. If you’ve been at your current address less than two years, you must also provide your previous address.
Then you’re taken to a screen to request the report or reports you want (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax).
Before your reports are released to you, you will be asked to answer a series of questions. (This is similar to what you have done on WisePiggy.) I requested an Experian report and had to answer five questions to verify my identity. One of the questions listed five very similar phone numbers and asked which was a previous number of mine. Answering one or more questions incorrectly may mean you are unable to access to your report. It can be really helpful to have your records handy.
After you’ve confirmed your identity, you’ll be taken to a page with a confirmation number. This confirmation is important, especially if it turns out there is incorrect information listed in your report that you would like to dispute. I printed my confirmation page and report as a password-protected PDF since there is so much information in there that could be used by an identity thief.
Once you get your report
Once you have saved your credit report, review it carefully and correct any errors. Unfortunately, errors are fairly common. If you want all of your reports (each report may contain slightly different information) you will have to repeat the request for each report, and answer similar verification questions.
Here’s where a bit of strategy comes into play. You can get one copy of each of the three reports every 12 months. This means you have a choice. You can request all three reports at once. This might be a good idea if, for example, you are about to apply for a mortgage and want to qualify for the best mortgage rates.
If you don’t have any major purchases coming up, you might space your requests out. Requesting one of the three reports every four months means that you can keep an eye on your credit throughout the year. What you decide is up to you and your personal situation. What will you choose?