FREE Annual Credit Report, The 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions You Need To Know!



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You are entitled to a free credit report starting on December 1, 2004. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

To avoid overwhelming the credit bureaus, the FACT Act will allow a free annual credit report to be available to consumers according to a staggered roll-out schedule according to your state of residence:

  • Effective December 1, 2004, consumers in the Western States are eligible for a free credit report. (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming)
  • Effective March 1, 2005, consumers in the Midwest States are eligible for a free credit report. (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin)
  • Effective June 1, 2005, consumers in the Southern States are eligible for a free report. (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas)
  • Effective September 1, 2005, consumers in the Eastern States and all U.S. Territories are eligible for a free credit report. (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhodes Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and all US Territories and Possessions)

A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

Here are the details about your rights under the FCRA and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, which established the free annual credit report program.

FREE Annual Credit Report, Most Frequently Asked Questions!

Q: How do I order my free annual credit report?

A: The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your credit report. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You may order your free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one copy of your free annual credit report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

Q: What information do I need to provide to get my free annual credit report?

A: You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide consumer reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.

Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

Q: Why do I want a copy?

A: Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your credit report to:

  • make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
  • help guard against identity theft. That's when someone uses your personal information like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number to commit fraud.

Q: How long does it take to get my free annual credit report after I order it?

A: If you request your report online at annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to access it immediately online. If you order your report by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, your report will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days.

Whether you order your report online, by phone, or by mail, it may take longer to receive your report if the nationwide consumer reporting company needs more information to verify your identity.

Q: Are there any other situations where I might be eligible for a free annual credit report?

A: Under federal law, you're entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.

You're also entitled to one free report a year if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you're on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

  • To buy a copy of your report, contact: Equifax: 800-685-1111; www.equifax.com
  • Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742); www.experian.com
  • Trans Union: 800-916-8800; www.transunion.com

Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.

Q: Should I order a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies?

A: It's up to you. Because nationwide consumer reporting companies get their information from different sources, the information in your report from one company may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two companies.

Q: Should I order my free annual credit report from all three of the nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time?

A: You may order one, two, or all three reports at the same time, or you may stagger your requests. It's your choice. Staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports.

Q: What if I find errors either inaccuracies or incomplete information?

A: Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate.

Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question usually within 30 days unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information.

After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.

When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. (This free report does not count as your annual free report under the FACT Act.) consumer reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete.

The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.

Tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute.

And if you are correct that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate the information provider may not report it again.

Q: What can I do if the consumer reporting company or information provider won't correct the information I dispute?

A: If an investigation doesn't resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute (of 100 words or less) be included in your file and in future reports.

You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.

If you tell the information provider that you dispute an item, a notice of your dispute must be included any time the information provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company.

Q: How long can a consumer reporting company report negative information about me?

A: A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.

There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you've applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.

Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

Q: Can anyone else can get a copy of my annual credit report?

A: The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report. Creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home are among those that have a legal right to access your report.

Q: Can my employer get my free annual credit report?

A: Your employer can get a copy of your free annual credit report only if you agree. A consumer reporting company may not provide information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your written consent.

Q: Can I also get my credit score with my free annual credit report?

A: No your credit score is not part of your free annual credit report. If you would like your credit score as part of your free annual credit report, you will be offered the opportunity to purchase it online.

4 FREE Annual Credit Report Ordering Tips!

  1. When you order your free annual credit report, request that no more than the last four digits of your Social Security Number appear on copies of your credit report.
  2. While you may decide to do so, you are NOT required to purchase or subscribe to any other services from a credit reporting company in order to get your free annual credit report.
  3. Consider marking your calendar to request your free annual credit report from a different company every few months, as a preventative measure against ID theft, rather than ordering all three at one time.
  4. Beware of e-mails, Internet ads and telemarketing calls that promise to obtain your - free credit report - on your behalf. In particular, e-mail messages or Internet ads claiming to be from www.annualcreditreport.com are likely to be scams.

You are entitled to a free annual credit report starting on December 1, 2004. Get Yours Today!

Learn How To Boost Your Credit Score, Call for a FREE consultation a paralegal is open to discuss your credit situation. Click Here or Call Now: 888-551-2845

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