The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Free Credit Report

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The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Free Credit Report

Many people look forward to the day each year when they can receive their free credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion). However, not everyone knows exactly what to do once they get it! To ensure you’re getting the most out of your free credit report, use this step-by-step guide to ensure you get your free credit report and know how to take advantage of it.

A credit report is an incredibly useful document that details everything you need to know about your credit history, including your available credit, how much debt you have, and whether or not you’ve made any payments late in the past. Your credit report has a tremendous impact on your financial future and can affect whether or not you qualify for loans, mortgages, or even jobs in some cases. However, most people don’t realize that they are entitled to free copies of their credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus every year.

If you’re an American citizen, your rights to free credit reports are pretty well-protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA allows you to get one free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S.: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Additionally, it allows you to dispute errors that appear on your report without cost and requires that credit reporting agencies have guidelines on how they protect the information they store about you.

Do you need another credit score?

If you’re planning on applying for a mortgage or an auto loan, it’s important that you understand how your credit scores are calculated. But if you’re shopping around for a new cell phone plan, getting another score won’t do you much good. You may find that there is some variation between one score and another, but your individual credit profile won’t change overnight.

Before we get into how you can get your free credit report, it’s important to understand what a credit score is. It’s an algorithm (developed by FICO) that provides an approximation of your creditworthiness. In other words, your credit score is a measure of whether or not you’re likely to repay any borrowed money on time.

What is the difference between good and bad credit scores?

Before we go over how to get your free credit report, let’s quickly talk about what goes into calculating a credit score and why it’s important. To begin with, a credit score is based on mathematical algorithms that take into account your payment history, debt, and total available balance on all of your accounts. There are two scores most lenders look at: The FICO score which ranges from 300-850 and an INFORMAL score (also called VantageScore) that goes from 501-990.

Is there a limit on the number of free credit reports I can request in one year?

Every year, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). However, you can only request. There are strict limits on how many times you can request your free credit report each year. According to Federal law, there is a limit of one free annual credit report from each of these three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion one report per bureau per twelve-month period. So if you requested reports from Experian and Equifax in January 2017, you wouldn’t be able to order from them again until December 31st.

How often should I check my credit score?

It depends. The big three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide a free copy of your credit report once per year. After all, they have access to a treasure trove of information about you and many others, so it makes sense that you should be able to access it too. You should check your credit score on a regular basis. It’s up to you how often. Personally, I like checking my credit score once a month—but you might want to check it every few months or even every year if you have good scores and no plans of applying for credit soon. Either way, don’t forget that you can get a free copy of your annual credit report from each of the three major bureaus at least once per year!

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