Monday, April 13, 2009

Credit Report for Free

Every Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) has to furnish free credit reports, when voluntarily requested by you once in a year As per the amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Your credit report contains information relating to your payment history, the amounts owed by you, your residential address, how consistently you pay your bills, whether you have been sued, or if you have filed for bankruptcy. All this information reflects your FICO (Fair Isaacs Corporation) score, which is a snap shot of your credit risk. A high FICO score means you are a low credit risk to the lenders. The top three nation wide credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. These as well as the other CRAs sell the information in your credit report to creditors, lenders, mortgage companies so that they could evaluate your application and take a decision whether to extend the credit to you or not.

Free credit reports are useful for a variety of reasons. One of them is well, because it is free. Secondly, if you have to buy something prestigious like a home or a car, or if you have to apply for a job, then most of the lending organizations and company refer to your credit score and credit report. So it helps if you have fair, accurate and up to date information about your credit status in your credit report.

A free copy of the credit report will be provided to every American citizen. To order your copy of a free credit report you could go to the website, www.annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized source for your free annual credit report from the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. You could also call their toll-free number, or write an application and request for your free copy. You could call at 877-322-8228, or fill in the Credit Report Request form and mail it to

Annual Credit Report Request Service,
P.O. Box 105281,
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

To get your free credit report, you have to provide personal details like your name, address, phone number, Social Security number and date of birth. If you have relocated in the past two years, you need to give your last address as well. You may have to also give information like the mortgage payments you are paying or the debt amount you have to clear.

As you are aware that identity thefts are on the rise. It is very easy for anyone to access your credit file or fraudulently apply for a credit card in your name. After that the criminal could even do balance transfers in your name, ask for a credit line increase and process address changes without your knowledge. Not only do you have to bear the brunt of paying a hefty bill for no fault of yours, but you also spoil your credit ratings. So it is better to be safe than sorry. So as a security measure, you get your free credit report only when you apply for it. If you get an email or a pop up ad, asserting that it is from the three top credit rating agencies and would give you a free credit report, please ignore it because it could probably be fraudulent. You must not give any sort of personal and credit information because none of the three credit reporting agencies or their website will ask for your personal information, unless you voluntarily ask them for a free credit report.

A free credit report is also provided when your application for credit line increase is declined. You will get a letter from the company giving you the reason for the decline along with the phone number of the credit reporting agency. You have two months from the date of receiving such a letter, to contact the credit reporting agency and asking for a copy of the free credit report. This happens in reasons when your application for a job or insurance is declined as well. Even in cases when you see a discrepancy in your credit report or if you feel that there is an identity theft being committed on your credit card, you could apply for a free credit report from a credit reporting agency. You also have the right for a free credit report if you are unemployed and would take up a job within the next 60 days. Under no other circumstance do you get a free credit report, other than the no-cost credit report which you get annually from the top three nation wide credit reporting agencies.

You could order one report at a time from the three CRAs or you could even ask for all the three reports at a time. However, it is sensible if you ask for the three reports over a course of time in the year, because the information is up-to-date and accurate, and also you can keep a check on any kind of untoward activity on your credit file. If you are credit conscious and would like to completely guard any kind of identity theft in your credit card accounts, then you could enroll with a credit monitoring service. This service automatically monitors your credit file every business day and alerts you of any kind of changes in your account which is not initiated by you. There could be a free trial period for you to try the automatic monitoring system. You also receive a copy of a free credit report along with the automatic credit monitoring system.

It's always is wise to be updated with your credit report at least once in a year.

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