How To Access A Free Report
Your credit report contains a variety of information about you along with your history of borrowing and repayment. You’ll find the following information contained within your report.
- Your name and last known residential address
- Your Social Security number
- Employment information
- Details of all your credit accounts including loans, mortgages, and credit cards
- Your outstanding and available balances
- A record of late payments, charge-offs, and defaults
- Bankruptcies and foreclosures are also included.
There are a number of companies that offer free credit reports as part of their credit monitoring services. Let’s take a look at some of them in more detail.
The Best Free Credit Report Destinations
This company offers free credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax (but not Experian).
- The signup process is simple and you’ll receive your free credit report with any irregularities or negative information highlighted for easy reference.
- In exchange for this free service, you’ll receive offers from Credit Karma from time to time. Note that you’re under no obligation to sign up for these.
The easiest option is to apply for your free annual credit report from a government-approved provider.
- Every US resident is entitled to an annual credit report that includes information from the three main credit bureaus.
- In the wake of Covid-19, this service will be made available on a weekly basis until April 2021.
- As a public service, this method is totally free of charge - but it doesn’t offer any additional monitoring.
This provider offers credit monitoring of all three major bureaus. You’ll also receive monthly credit report updates.
- One of the advanced features of Identity Guard is the use of AI and internet monitoring to pick up instances of your personal information appearing on dark web pages and sites known to be used by fraudsters.
- The Total package costs $19.99 per month while the Premier package is priced at $24.99. Introductory offers may also apply.
If you choose to sign up for a trial account in order to get a free credit report, don’t forget to cancel your subscription before the billing cycle begins.
How To Read A Credit Report
Once you’ve obtained your free credit report you’ll want to take a close look at it and ensure that the information it contains is correct. You’ll find the following sections in your report.
- Identifying Information - This includes your full name, SSN, and other information.
- Credit Accounts - A full listing of your accounts and their balances is contained in this section.
- Public Records - This section should ideally be blank. This is where items like tax liens and judgments are recorded.
Read through your report carefully and note any errors in your personal or credit information or negative entries regarding unpaid debts.
What To Do After Reviewing Your Report
Incorrect information and negative payment entries (including late payments, defaults, and charge-offs) can lower your credit score and make it difficult to apply for loans and credit cards in the future.
- Once you’ve checked your credit score. you’ll want to follow up with the credit bureau so that any inaccuracies can be resolved.
- Genuine negative information can’t be removed unless your creditors agree to do so. You’ll usually need to settle the debt before this can happen.
- Paying your installments on time each month will help keep your credit record clean and your score high.
Free Credit Report Versus Paid Credit Monitoring
Obtaining your free annual credit report through the Federal Government’s website is by far the cheapest and easiest option - but it has certain limitations.
- Under normal conditions you’re only allowed one free credit check a year - and a lot can happen in between checks.
- If you have privacy concerns or would like an active monitoring check instead of an annual credit report you may want to explore some of the offerings from credit repair companies.
Paid monitoring offers the additional benefit of active tracking. You’ll be alerted if there are any unusual changes in your credit profile or if a new credit application is made in your name.
Obtaining a free credit report is essential to keeping your FICO score high while protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud.
You may want to opt for a free annual credit check through the official government website or sign up for active credit monitoring services - remembering that you can always cancel the trial service before you’re billed.
Going through your free credit report and identifying errors or negative information is the first step to repairing your credit.