Rights Under Law for Consumers to Obtain Free Credit Reports
Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers have a right to a free credit report on themselves in certain circumstances.
The most common circumstances under the FCRA for a free credit report are:
- Free credit report denied credit - After you receive an adverse notice, i.e. you have been denied credit in the last 60 days (sec 612b)
- If you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the 60-day period beginning on the date on wich the certification is made. (sec 612c)
- If you are a recipient of public welfare assistance (sec 612c)
- If you have a reason to believe that the file on you at the credit bureau contains inaccurate information due to fraud. (sec 612c)
If you are denied credit, generally your free credit report would be provided by the credit reporting agency that provided the report to the lender who denied you. If you are not sure who supplied the report, request your credit report from all 3 bureaus, saying you have been denied credit recently and include who denied you the credit. we suggest you mail the request for the credit report.
If you are unemployed, order you credit report directly from the credit bureaus with a certification that you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next sixty days. We suggest you file your request in writing - 3 credit bureau addresses.
If you are on welfare, order your report directly from each of the credit bureaus, again in writing, certifying you are on public assistance and request a copy of your credit report.
If you are a victim, or you think you are a victim of Identity Fraud, we suggest you request a fraud alert be put on your credit. If you put a fraud alert on your credit report at any of the 3 credit bureaus, that bureau will alert the remaining two bureaus, who will also put the fraud alert on your account. Once a fraud alert is placed on your account, you should automatically be sent copies of your credit reports from each bureau. Because identity theft may be proceed quickly, it is advised you call one of the three bureaus asap.
Of course, everyone is entitled to a Free Annual Credit Report each year under Federal law according to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) at AnnualCreditReport.com1. See our page Free Annual Credit Report.
Free Instant Credit Reports On the Internet
On the Internet, free instant credit reports and/or credit scores are often advertised. The free instant credit report is normally only available after you subscribe to a Credit Monitoring Service.
Before signing up for such services, we advise you to carefully read all the details of the "free" offer including the monthly and yearly charges. Determine when your card will be charged. Determine how you cancel, just in case you are not satisfied with the service.
- If you know which credit bureau report you want, make sure the free credit report is from that credit bureau. Some free trials include all three national credit reporting agencies.
- If you want a credit score, does the free credit report include one?
- Check if a sample report is available. Review it to make sure the free online credit report provides what you need. For example, sometimes you expect to get creditor addresses with your credit report but not all services provide such addresses.
- What other services are offered? Unlimited access? ID Fraud protection? Marketing Lists Opt-Out information?
If you can afford them, Credit Monitoring services are valuable tools to help detect identity theft, plus also to review your report for inaccurate items that may need disputing.
Free Credit Reports if you are a Victim of Identity Fraud.
Q. What is a fraud alert?
A. A fraud alert is statement that can be placed on your credit file to let potential creditors and others know that you may or have been a victim of identity theft.
An initial fraud alert stays on your file for at least 90 days. An initial fraud alert may be appropriate for your credit file when you may be a victim of identity theft, for example, when you lose or misplace your wallet.
An extended fraud alert is placed when you know you are victim of identity theft. An extended fraud alert stays on your file for 7 years. If you ask for an extended fraud alert, you will normally have to provide an Identity Theft Report.
Q. How do I request a fraud alert be placed?
A. To place a fraud alert on your credit file, you can call one of the 3 national credit reporting agencies.
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
Q. Do I need to call all 3 national credit reporting agencies to place fraud alerts?
A. When you place a fraud alert with one credit reporting agency, it should notify the other two, which must also place fraud alerts on your credit file. Fraud alerts are not credit freezes.
Page authored by: Charles R. Burnett at CreditReporting.com