Everything You Need to Know about your Free Credit Report

For so many, the New Year is about starting over.  A fresh start can include getting your finances in order.  To begin this process, pulling a copy of your credit report for free should be at the top of your list.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), the federal statute enacted to protect your consumer rights, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies.  

The Credit Reporting Agencies

By logging into the website AnnualCreditReport.com you can obtain a copy of your report from the three big agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.  The good news is…free means free.  When you request a copy of your report, there are no exceptions and an annual free copy of your credit report is all you will get.  However, when you receive a copy of your credit report, there is no guarantee that you will understand it and there is no assistance in interpreting it.  Just because the credit reporting agencies are obligated to send you a copy of your report without charge does not mean the agencies are going to make it easy for you to understand it.

Accessing Your Credit Report

First, in order to access a copy of your report, you will need to answer a series of questions about your personal information and past financial transactions.  In the event you fail to answer all questions properly, the credit reporting agency will mail you secure link to access your report online.  If, however, the bureaus detect a concern that the person requesting the report is not the consumer whose report it is, they will provide you instructions to mail in for your report.

Understanding Your Credit Report

To the average consumer, reviewing the report can be confusing.  Credit reports are lengthy for consumers who have been using credit for more than a few years.  The more you read your report, the better you will become at understanding what is on it.  

To most consumers, the most important part of your credit report is your credit score.  It is considered the GPA (grade point average) of your credit.  Don’t search long and hard for it with your free report, because it is NOT included.  The FCRA does not require credit reporting agencies to provide you with a copy of your score, so therefore, it won’t be included. That being said, credit reporting experts say that with a copy of your report you can estimate what your score will be by using a FICO score estimator at no charge.  FICO is the most common credit scoring model used by most creditors looking to evaluate your credit worthiness.  Utilizing the information on your report, you can respond to the questions and it will provide you with a credit score estimate.

If you are in need of assistance with information on your credit report, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.