The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
A credit report contains 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 three good reasons you should review your credit report:
- Information it contains affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
- 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.
- 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. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order on the internet, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also order by calling 877-322-8228, or mailing your request to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are only providing free copies through these three sources.