How To Get Your Free Credit Reports:

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Free Credit Reports

Tuesday 24, 2017

Before considering how you should get your free credit reports, it is also fundamentally important to know why you need to do so in the first place. As much as credit card bureaus execute their mandate swiftly and efficiently, they also make errors that can cost huge financial setbacks.

Keeping up with your reports will also help in ensuring that there is no additional information or unauthorized activity in your report. Itmay be hard to notice any unusual activity until you come across your report showing a strange account, anunauthorized transaction or in some cases, identity theft which is not strange with card holders.

The Companies Mandated to Give Credit Reports

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) are required by law to provide free credit reports yearly upon anyone’s request.

The FCRA determines and ensures the accuracy, privacy and authenticity of the information in the files of the above nationwide credit reporting companies.

The information in the credit reports includes where one lives, how he/she pays her bills, whether or not he/she has ever been sued and whether or not he/she has ever applied for bankruptcy.

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How To Order A Free Report:

Each of the three national credit reporting companies have set up a centralized website( annualcreditreport.com),a mailing address(P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281) and a telephone number(1-877-322-8228) that is toll free.

Upon your request, the law allows you to order three reports at a go from each of the credit report companies or you can order one report at a time. The law entitles you to a copy of the credit reports from each of the companies every 12 months.

How Long It Takes to get a Report:

If your request for a credit report was done online at annualcreditreport.com, the response and feedback will be immediate. If your order was done via mail by filling the Annual Credit Report RequestForm, your feedback will be mailed to you within 15 days upon receipt. If your credit report was done by calling the toll free number, your report will be availed to you by mail after 15 days of processing.

Information needed for a free report:

The information required to get a free credit report is as follows;

– Name
– Address,
– Social security number and
– Date of birth.

Apart from the basic information you need to state whether you have moved recently and if that is the case, you need to provide your previous address. In order to ensure that security is paramount, each of the national credit report companies may ask questions unique only to you, the applicant, for instance, the denomination of your mortgage payment. These questions might also be unique to each credit report company due to the different sources the information it is obtained from.

The Eligibility Threshold for a free Report:

The FCRA law stipulates that you are eligible for a free report if a company takes some stern action against you, for instance, denying you insurance or a credit application. In these circumstances, you are eligible for a free report if you ask for it within a 60 day period. The notice should provide you with the following details: the name, address and phone number of the credit reporting company.

You are also eligible if you do not have a job and you intend to look for one in 60 days. You also meet the eligibility threshold if your report has errors due to fraudulent activities like identity theft or if you are on welfare.

If you do not meet the above threshold, the credit report company may charge you a reasonable fee for another copy of the credit report within a one year period. For you to buy a credit report you need to contact the following companies:

-Experian(experian.com)-1-888-397-3742)
-TransUnion(transunion.com)-1800-916-8800
-Equifax(equifax.com)-1-800-685-1111

Why You Need To Order A Credit Report:

A credit card report contains information that will determine whether or not you are eligible for a loan or not and how much you are required to pay for you to borrow money.

You also need a credit card report to be able to obtain a loan for a huge purchase like that one of a car, house, land , insurance or even to apply for a job.

Credit reports also help to curb against identity theft which has become synonymous with cardholders. This happens when someone else gets their hands on your personal information like your social security number, name address etc, to commit financial atrocities and fraud. This information is then used to open an account using your credentials and once this is achieved and bills are not paid, all these fraudulent activities are posted on your report. In these circumstances, it is very hard to get a job, obtain credit or even insurance.

Errors:

The stipulated laws under FCRA grants the information provider (whoever provides or submits your information to the credit report company) and the credit report company to correct inaccurate information in your report. They are also responsible for any clarifications needed and so if you encounter any errors in your report you need to do the following:

a) Submit a written complaint as to what you think is inaccurate in your report:
After your submission, the credit card company will do a thorough investigation regarding the matters in question which is usually done in 30 days unless the information does not worth the trouble. If it is the Credit Card Company avails the inaccurate information you provided to the information provider who provided the information.
The information provider/organization is supposed to analyze the given information and see if there are any discrepancies then report back to the credit report company. If the information in question is found to be inaccurate, the information provider is required to inform the three nationwide credit report companies so that they can correct the said information in your file.
After the investigations are complete, the credit report company must provide you with the written results plus a free copy of your report which doesn’t count as your free annual report. If any information is altered within the report the credit report company cannot include the inaccurate information until it seeks clarification on whether the information is accurate or not from the information provider. The credit reporting company must also submit to you, a written notice which contains information about the information provider i.e. the name, address, and telephone number.
b) Inform the information provider about the information that you seem to think that is inaccurate. The information provider will be in touch with the credit report company as most of them have addresses for disputes. When contacting the credit report company, the information provider must include your dispute as a notice.

What to do in case the information Provider or Credit Report Company does not rectify your dispute:

In the event that the investigations do not produce results enough to settle the disputes with the credit report company, you may request for a statement of dispute to be put in your file and the future reports that you receive. Upon your request, the credit card company will include the abovementioned statement of dispute to whoever received a copy of your report previously.

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The Period a Credit Report Company should take to report inaccurate information:

Incase of bankruptcy,a credit report company can report that information for 10 years and precise, factual negative information for 7 years. There is no limit to which information is supposed to be availed about a criminal record.

The Right to access credit reports:

According to the FCRA, those who are granted legal access your credit report are; creditors, employers, insurers or other business entities that use your credit report to determine whether you should get access to credit according to your application.

If your employer wants a copy of your credit report, he should get one only if you give your consent. The same applies to a credit card reporting company. A credit reporting company cannot give out your information without consent from you in writing.

Official Website:

The official website that deals with credit reports is annualcreditreport.com which is mandated and tasked by the FCRA to issue credit reports annually. Some unscrupulous websites have come up with ways and means to hoodwink the unsuspecting public into believing that they offer free credit reports.

The websites at a glance may look authentic but the ‘free’ report they are offering is actually not free. After what they call a ‘trial period’ they start billing their fees to your credit card which you might not even notice.

Some even have a similar website with some slight changes like the spelling on their URL.Such websites prey on those who misspell the official website (annualcreditreport.com) hoping that you will do the same you fall prey to their scam.

It is always wise to countercheck the website that you are visiting to avoid such a predicament. What those fraudulent websites need is your personal information to manipulate your account to their liking. So it is advisable to be very economical with your personal information. You might be providing information to the wrong people, company or entity unwillingly or unknowingly but whatever those people do with your information like; opening up another account using your personal information or buying goods and services in the black market will be included in your annual credit report. It is, therefore, better to be safe than sorry.

The FCRA have put measures in place to deal with and avoid such financial malpractices. The website to visit while filing a complaint is ftc.gov/complaint or call the number 1-877-382-4357.

The FCRA have also gone further to issue any fraud-related practices to law enforcement agencies via a secure website (consumer sentinel) which has roots in the U.S and abroad.

Whenever any online transaction regarding credit reports does not look or feel genuine you should report immediately to the state attorney or the FTC.