The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates each of America's credit reporting companies to provide each and every citizen with a free annual credit report on request - the three companies being Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These three financial organizations have jointly hosted a common website from where consumers can order their free report online. There are many websites that offer free credit reports but they are never absolutely free - they will offer this as part of some other service for which you will be charged. You need to be aware of some devious tactics followed by some of these companies - in fact, if you make a spelling error in the website address, you are likely to be led to a site that will actually charge you for your credit information before they actually release it to you!
The three credit agencies also provide the annual credit report for free through a toll free telephone number 1-877-322-8228 and also through a mail request if you send a filled-in annual credit report request form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-528. You can get your credit history and information for free only through the above avenues - any other way, including contacting the three companies independently, would most likely involve some form of payment or charges.
Having learned the ways to get an annual credit report absolutely free, you might want to know what use the information will be to you. A credit report is necessary for you to get information about your credit worthiness; that is, how the lenders in the financial market perceive you in terms of being a financial risk to them should they loan you money. It lets you keep a close watch on your credit score which actually determines how much credit you can get and what interest rates you will be charged. If you have a high score or above average rating it stands to reason that you can command higher loan amounts at lower interest rates compared to a person whose credit rating is not so good.
Using the personal information provided in your report, you can also make sure that no identity theft has happened using your personal identity. The list of your debts, along with your payments details, late payments and pending payments will be provided in great detail in the report. By keeping a track of this, it is a simple task to spot an identity theft that may have taken place. In case your identity has been stolen and has been used to get loans other than what you own, you can flag it and then report it to the credit agency immediately.
You can get three credit reports using one of the ways stated above - one report from each of the credit reporting companies. You can choose to order them simultaneously or at different times. Ordering them at three different times through the year is a good idea because you can track your credit rating through out the year. If you order the your history after taking a particularly heavy credit or after paying off a heavy debt, it can prove to be very useful. You will know the exact impact the latest transaction has created on your rating, by comparing the current credit report and the previous one.
Now that the uses of a credit report are apparent and you know that there are simple ways to order three credit reports absolutely free on an annual basis, you should reap maximum benefits by making use of the free service.
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