The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to consumer reporting companies.
A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
Here are the details about your rights under the FCRA and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, which established the free annual credit report program.
A Warning About “Imposter” Websites
Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law – annualcreditreport.com. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.
Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide consumer reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at email@example.com.
How do I request a "fraud alert" be placed on my file?
You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer credit reporting companies place "fraud alerts" in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file.
An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer credit reporting company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
What is a credit file disclosure or a credit report?
A credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, provides you with all of the information in your credit file maintained by a consumer reporting company that could be provided by the consumer reporting company in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as a lender. A credit file disclosure also includes a record of everyone who has received a consumer report about you from the consumer reporting company within a certain period of time ("inquiries"). The credit file disclosure includes certain information that is not included in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as the inquiries of companies for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance and account reviews, and any medical account information which is suppressed for third party users of consumer reports. You are entitled to receive a disclosure copy of your credit file from a consumer reporting company under Federal law and the laws of various states.
Should I order all my credit reports at one time or space them out over 12 months?
You are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies through the Central Source. It is entirely your choice whether you order all three credit reports at the same time or order one now and others later. The advantage of ordering all three at the same time is that you can compare them. (However, you will not be eligible for another free credit report from the Central Source for 12 months.) On the other hand, the advantage of ordering one now and others later (for example, one credit report every four months) is that you can keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report. Remember, you are entitled to receive one free credit report through the Central Source every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – so if you order from only one company today you can still order from the other two companies at a later date.
How do I request a credit report by mail for a child under 13 years of age?
The credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children. If you suspect that your minor child's information has been used fraudulently, you should contact the credit reporting agencies directly and report the illegal use of your child's information to law enforcement. Please supply each credit reporting agency with your child's complete name, address, date of birth and a copy of the minor child's birth certificate and social security card. Additionally, please provide a copy of your driver's license or other government-issued proof of your identity, which includes your current address, and a current utility bill containing your current address so the credit reporting agencies may promptly respond to your request. The addresses for the credit reporting agencies are listed below:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, Georgia 30374
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, Texas 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
How can I provide a suggestion or complaint about the Annual Credit Report Request Service or this website?
Please see Contact Us section for contact information
Where can I find information on disputing or correcting information in my credit file?
Please contact the nationwide consumer credit reporting company that provided the credit report
Equifax - www.investigate.equifax.com
Experian - www.experian.com
TransUnion - www.transunion.com
How can I exclude my name from nationwide consumer credit reporting company lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers?
You may request that consumer credit reporting companies exclude your name from lists for pre-approved, unsolicited credit and insurance offers. To find out more, please call 1–888–5OPTOUT (1–888–567–8688).
How can I get my credit score?
You can purchase a credit score by contacting one of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.
You can also purchase a credit score when you request your free annual credit report through this website.
How do I contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
What about companies that claim they can improve my credit report for a fee?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cautions consumers to be wary of companies that make claims regarding credit repair. These companies, commonly called credit clinics, don't do anything for consumers that consumers cannot do for themselves at little or no cost. Beware of any organization that offers to create a new identity and credit file for you. The FTC and state attorneys general have filed actions against those who pursue these fraudulent practices. Here are some warning signs that the FTC and others say consumers should look out for to determine if they might be dealing with a credit clinic:
An organization that guarantees to remove late payments, bankruptcies, or similar information from a credit report
An organization that charges a lot of money to repair credit
A company that asks the consumer to write to the credit reporting company and repeatedly seek verification of the same credit account information in the file, month after month, even though the information has been determined to be correct
An organization that is reluctant to give out their address or one that pushes you to make a decision immediately
For a helpful brochure about credit clinics, you can write to the Federal Trade Commission, Sixth and Pennsylvania Avenues, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004 and request a brochure titled "Credit Repair: Self Help May Be Best."
Where can I find out more about credit repair?
Please visit the Federal Trade Commission Credit Repair information at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm
Where can I find out more about identity theft?
Please visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Center at
(Source for this information: ftc.gov website)