In 2003 congress amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to mandate the three credit bureaus to allow consumers to order one copy of their credit report for free annually. Now starting in 2020,you can order six credit reports per year from Equifax; this is in addition to the free report that you can request from the three credit bureau.
What is in your credit report, you may ask? Your credit report includes information about places you have lived, open or closed loans or credit card accounts, bill-paying history, any bankruptcy, and inquiries about your credit. The report is then sold to companies to help them decide your creditworthiness and your ability to repay your debts. Employers also check your credit to make a hiring decision for a job. Reviewing your credit report annually will help you detect identity theft or inaccuracies sooner that can affect your credit.
When reviewing the report, pay attention to anything you might think is suspicious or that was reported inaccurately, such as late payments, etc.
If you find an inaccuracy, you need to report it to the credit bureaus online or by mail. By law, they have to investigate the item in question within 30 days. You will need to provide documentation to support your claim. If the credit bureau found that the reported information on your report is inaccurate, they will report it to the other credit bureaux to be updated.
What do you do if, while reviewing your report, you noticed fraud activities such as an account opened at an address you never lived before and a slight variation in the spelling of your name or unpaid debt that you did not contract? Then you need to contact the credit bureaus, the creditors, to challenge the information. You will also file a police report and affidavit to protect yourself.
The best site to get your free credit report is by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com
and follow the instructions. You will need to verify your identity, and after that, you will have a chance to view the report online or to download it.
You can also select to call 877-322-8228 to request it to be mailed to you.
Lastly, you can request it by mail by first downloading the annual credit form from the FTC website here, fill it out and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.