Getting a free credit report may sound next to impossible, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the law and you’re entitled to not just one, but three reports. You can request a  free credit report from any of the three main credit reporting agencies once every 12 months. And the ordering of your free credit report is quite a simple process.

How to order a free credit report

There are three ways to request a review of your  credit report for free:

  • Online: www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Phone: Call 877-322-8228
  • Mail: Print and complete the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to the address on the form

Steps to order a free credit report online

The steps for ordering a free credit report are straight and simple, particularly if you order your report online. It all starts at www.annualcreditreport.com.

  1. Visit the website and click on the button, “Request your free credit reports”
  2. Fill  the online form with mentioning the personal information requested
  3. Choose the reports you want—one, two, or all three—from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
  4. Answer the resulting questions, to verify your identity, for each credit report requested

Should you order one, two, or three credit reports?

How many credit reports should you order? According to Federal law, you are allowed to receive one credit report from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion in every 12 months. Are you planning a major purchase shortly? If yes, then you may want to request all three credit reports to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes in them that are needed to be disputed or corrected. Each credit reporting agency gathers information from different sources, so the content in each agency’s credit report can differ. Even if the information is different, still it will be accurate.

Credit report scams: What to watch out for when ordering a free credit report

You have to sign up for a service when all you want is your free credit report but some companies want to sell you credit reports when all you want is your free credit report so don’t be fooled. Type “free credit report” in an online search tool, and you’ll see many links vying for your click. Some include such search-results language as, “free” or “official site.”

The best way to ensure you’re going to the correct site for the free credit reports to which the law entitles you is to type www.annualcreditreport.com into the address bar of your browser.

What are credit bureaus? What are the credit reporting agencies?

Credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies are different terms for the same companies. In the U.S., there are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each collects information about your history and how you use your credit. They also keep track of whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy or if any business has turned your unpaid debt over to a collections agency. You can learn more about each of the companies at their websites: 1) Equifax       2)Experian         3)TransUnion

Why are credit reports important?

Credit reports play a key role in important aspects of your credit life, that’s why they are important. The decision-makers will look at your credit report to help determine whether you’re someone they can trust when you’re applying for a job, looking to rent a house or apartment, or wanting to take out a loan or do credit card application.

Identifying Information is also included in  Credit reports such as your name and Social Security number, which can also be used to monitor certain kinds of identity theft. You can ensure that the information found in them is accurate by regularly reviewing your credit report.  It could be a sign of identity theft that a criminal has used your personal information to open a credit account or take out a loan in your name when you spot unfamiliar activity on any of your reports.

A  lot of ground is covered as negative information in a credit report. It can include tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies which are obtained from public records. These help to give lenders, prospective employers, and others a view of your financial status and obligations.

Where’s my credit score?

You won’t find on your credit report even though credit scores are derived using information from your credit report if you’re looking for your credit score. If you’re thinking about where to find yours, there are four main ways, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau:

  • Credit card or loan statement
    Not all such statements include credit scores, but yours might.
  • Nonprofit credit counselor or HUD-approved housing counselor
  • Credit score service
    Be careful with this one. Some sites may ask you to sign up and pay a monthly subscription fee after a possible “free” trial period.
  • Buy a score
    The credit report agencies, FICO, and other services will sell you a credit score, but don’t be tricked into purchasing other services the companies offer at the same time.