In 2004, an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act was made that states that you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus once every 12 months.
Your credit report contains the following information:
- Where you live, whether you own your home, and how often you've moved.
- How you pay your bills.
- How much credit you have.
- What types of credit you have.
- Whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.
Your information is collected by, and reported to the credit bureaus by the following:
- Credit card companies
- Insurance companies
- Other businesses
These businesses then use this information to determine whether they want to:
- Lend you money.
- Extend you credit.
- Issue an insurance policy to you.
- Rent you a house or apartment.
- Hire you as an employee.
The information contained in your credit report is also used to help the lender determine what the interest rate should be on your credit card or loan. If you have a history of missed or late payments, you’re considered high risk, and in order to be extended credit, they will likely require that you pay a higher interest rate. Insurance companies can also use this information to determine the premiums you'll pay on various types of insurance.
The Three Credit Bureaus
It is also important to obtain a report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. This is because some companies may only collection information from one bureau, or may only report to one or two. By looking over all three, you can make sure the information is correct for each. The three credit bureaus are:
3. Trans Union
How Do I Order My Free Credit Report?
The three major credit bureaus have set up a central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address that you use to order your free credit reports.
- Web Site: www.annualcreditreport.com
- Toll-free Telephone Number: 877-322-8228
- Address: Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
The three credit reporting bureaus will not send you an email or call you asking you for personal information, so don't respond to such requests. If you receive an email, don’t respond or click on any links in the email as there are plenty of scams that attempt to obtain your personal information. You should only access the website directly.