You have choices when it comes to viewing your credit report. Initially when you apply for credit and are denied, (called an "adverse action" in credit industry language), you will receive a free credit report. That report will identify the credit reporting agency (CRA) that provided the report leading to the denial of credit. If this report is not sent to you automatically, you should request the report and provide the CRA with a copy of the denial.
Moreover, you have the right to receive one free report annually from each major CRA, (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). You can get your free report on line at www.annualcreditreport.com, by phone at (877) 322-8228, or by written request to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30374-5281
You are entitled to get all three reports at the same time for free. However some people like to order one every few months, (e.g. Equifax in February, Experian in June and Transunion in October), to get a longer term analysis of the information contained in the report. Getting these free credit reports will not hurt your credit score.
Keep in mind that if you order on line you will be asked multiple security questions regarding identity, employment and prior credit which some people cannot recall. The other down side to ordering on line is that each CRA will try to up sell you to purchase credit monitoring and other products after you work through the ordering process. Also keep in mind that you oly get one free report from each CRA annually. If you want another from the same CRA, they will be happy to provide that for a fee. By law CRA’s can charge no more than $11.50 for a credit report.
You should also be aware that there are multiple "specialized" CRA's, who only report to specific entitles. For example, HireRight reports to employers, Medical Information Bureau reports medical bills, and CoreLogic SafeRent reports to landlords. You are entitled to a free copy of each specialized CRA report, but you have to order them directly. (HireRight is (800) 381-0645; MIB is (866) 692-6901; CoreLogic is (888) 333-2413. These numbers are always subject to change so you should double check them). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a full and current list of contact information for the major CRA’s and all specialized CRA’s at www.consumerfinance.gov.
In sum, the major CRA’s are the most important reports to access for consumers because these are the reports utilized by the vast majority of creditors, landlords and insurance companies. A healthy credit record depends on you reviewing your credit regularly. It is free and simple to order your report. Do it today!
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