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Annual Credit Report
How to Get an Annual Credit Report
One of the advantages and resources federal law gives you is to receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. In reality you can ask for it any time but apart from the one free time and some special circumstances you will have to pay for it.
So we have established that what ever happens you are entitled to one free copy every 12 months. You have three ways of accessing this report. The three reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can be contacted and they will send you the report, each one separately. You can either apply online and in this case you should be able to view it immediately.
You can call 1-877-322-8228 and order the credit report from there, in this case you should receive the report by regular mail within 15 days.
Alternatively you can complete a request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Using this method you should get your report 15 days after the letter has been received by the other party.
There are also some circumstances where you are entitled to an additional copy. These instances include some unemployment situations, being turned down by a creditor and so on. In these cases federal law enables you to ask for a free copy.
Taking a peek at your credit report is useful to know how creditors will judge you when you apply for a loan for example. The fact that there are three independent companies means you can actually order three copies in 12 months so it may be a good idea to leave some lag between ordering, maybe order a copy every four months. This will give you a continuous overview of your standings.
These reports contain information of personal nature (where you live and so on) and your credit standings. How you pay, paying on time, how much you pay etc. Banks use these information to assess what risk category you can be placed into and will give you interest rates and other business terms accordingly.
Reports may also be helpful to catch fraudulent behavior or errors. A bank won't notice an error as it isn't required to and it also can't keep track of you. You, on the other hand, know what you paid and how and are in a better legal standpoint to dispute matters. When disputing matters you should write to a consumer reporting company who will inspect your claim within 30 days and either dismiss it or accept it, which will mean that they clear/correct your credit report and send you a copy with the changed items (this does not count as a free copy).
Please be aware that the three credit reports you can get are the only reports allowed by law to be free and the methods shown above are the sole way to reach your data. Only these three organizations are authorized to partake in this business, no others. Websites claiming that they can monitor your credit status for free or fetch free copies have a catch somewhere, it is just not allowed legally.