As stated by the Federal law, you are allowed to get a free credit report at least once every 12 months from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Now, understand that using the government-mandated AnnualCreditReport.com website is the quickest way, even though you can also request them by phone or mail.
Now, in-between those annual checks, it is best to watch your credit for changes in order to guard against errors as well as identity theft.
How to Check Using AnnualCreditReport.com
First, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Then, request a credit report or reports, from one or two or all three of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Next, successfully answer security questions that will be asked about your finances that presumably only you can answer.
If you can recall those details may be because your account is several years old, you can request your reports either by mail or phone. This process does not need security questions.
You can generate your credit report online and save the reports to your desktop or have them printed out so you can access them later.
If you want to request a report or reports by mail, send a request form to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Ensure that your report or reports are sent within 15 business days.
Your credit reports can also be gotten by calling 877-322-8228. Visually impaired consumers are not left out as they can also call this number to request audio, large print or Braille.
Monitor your credit regularly, by checking on all three reports at least annually, because their data may differ slightly. If you spot changes you don’t expect or did not authorize, you can tip-off as a mistake or identity theft, thus checking even more often can be a good decision.
After taking advantage of your annual freebies, you can start using a personal finance site frequently for ongoing credit monitoring.
Information Offered by AnnualCreditReport.com
Offers data from all three major credit bureaus
Gives an extensive history of your credit use.
Reports (not scores)
Get one free report per 12-month period.
Information Offered by Personal Websites
Offers credit scores but not full reports.
A current history of your credit use
Data from one or two credit bureaus.
Why Should You Monitor Your Credit Scores/Reports?
Staying updated on your scores and reports can tip you off on problems like overlooked payment or identity theft. It also enables you to track progress on building your credit.