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You know the importance of your credit score. It’s what landlords look into when they’re considering you to be a tenant. It’s what banks and other lenders examine before approving you for a loan.
Therefore, given the impact that this 3-digit number has, it’s crucial that you know where to find your credit score, what goes into determining it, and how you can get all of this information for free.
Numerous federally regulated services let you get 1 free credit report per year. This means that you can get free credit report data from a number of trustworthy sources each year to review your credit history and determine if it needs to be improved. Start setting yourself up for future success by learning how you can take advantage of free annual credit report services.
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How to Get Free Credit Reports Online
Following the established Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), you’re entitled to request one free credit report every calendar year from the three main credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion all follow this rule, providing consumers with up-to-date credit information once a year for no cost.
This is a regulation that many consumers aren’t familiar with. So they miss out on a great chance to get insight into the possibility of their receiving a loan or housing before even applying. If you were already aware and have simply been wondering, “What are the steps to get my free credit report?” you’ll be happy to know it’s a simple process you need to follow.
- Access the service online. The credit bureaus make it easy to access information and services online.
- Fill out the digital form. Once you’ve accessed the service, fill out the online form and choose how many credit report services you want to receive data from (one, two or three).
- Choose the free credit report provider(s). This is where you’ll be able to select if you want the Experian or Equifax free credit report, or the TransUnion free credit report.
- Answer a list of questions to prove your identity. You can expect to provide information like your name, address, birth date and more. To ensure that you are the person requesting your free credit report government regulations like this help to keep your information safe.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion all use their own sets of data to make your report, so there isn’t just one best free credit report out of the three. This makes it good to try out different approaches each year or every few years. One year you can request all three at once to compare the reports and see how different they are. Then, you can take advantage of spacing out your requests to have access to free credit information at different times of the year.
There are two main approaches that consumers take when getting free credit reports. You can request reports from all three bureaus at one time to see how the reports vary slightly (as they often do). Otherwise, you can spread out your requests throughout the year to track your credit every few months.
Also, don’t forget that while you only have access to three free credit reports per year, you can always buy a credit report at any time. This is a good idea after you’ve made a big purchase, like a house or car, to see how much your credit score has been affected and if it’s time to take action to improve it.
Learn About Information You Will Find in Your Free Credit Report
Now that you’re familiar with the steps you’ll have to take to get your credit information, it’s important to find out what you’ll get with that free annual credit report. Whether you request the Experian, the Equifax or the TransUnion data, your report will cover all of the following areas:
- All of your credit accounts (closed as well as open) and payment history.
- Any debt accumulated.
- Available current balances.
- Mortgage history information.
- Rental history information.
- Public record information, including but not limited to foreclosures and bankruptcies.
- Personal information, such as name, Social Security Number and residential address.
Furthermore, sometimes you will find inaccurate information on your credit report which may point to identity theft. In cases like these, it’s crucial to dispute the inaccurate details with the credit bureaus, because they can bring down your score and make it difficult to make large purchases in the future.
By looking into your most recent credit information on a regular basis, you’re able to address problems as soon as they appear and avoid any unfair consequences. After you reach out, these credit bureaus will investigate the situation and make the appropriate fixes so that your score isn’t negatively impacted.
How to Access Just Your Free Credit Score
Credit reports provide various pieces of information, as you saw from the sections above. However, you may only be interested in receiving a quick glimpse into your score. If that’s the case, you can get free credit report score information through companies like Credit Karma.
Credit Karma is a popular company for free basic data. The company gives you access to a free Credit Karma score, which is taken from the Equifax and TransUnion bureaus. This can be a good option if you are already familiar with everything detailed in your credit report and just want to keep tabs on your score. Just remember that you won’t receive complete details of your consumer history.
How is my credit score calculated?
Many consumers are not aware of what goes into a credit score or how it’s formed. The score itself is actually based on credit history and related events, such as:
- The debt to available credit ratio.
- The consumer’s ability to pay bills on time.
- How many accounts the consumer has open at the time.
- The amount of time their credit history spans.
Beyond the factors above, each credit bureau calculates your score in a different way. That’s why it’s important to compare your scores by requesting reports from all three bureaus each year.