Before the pandemic, every US citizen was entitled to one free copy of each credit report. Now, until April 20, 2022, you can get the documents every week. Keeping track of your financial history is easier than ever. It underlies your total score, while banks, insurance companies, landlords, and employers check it to assess your applications. Getting the information is easy — just follow our guide.
Why Check Your Report?
If your score has fallen, obtaining the records is the only way to find why. The drop may be caused by a failure to fulfill financial obligations. Using too much of your limits or closing a credit card is also bad for the score. There is a broad spectrum of objective reasons.
At the same time, mistakes are also possible. According to the Federal Trade Commission, around 20% of consumers in the United States have erroneous reports. Meanwhile, the bureaus are obliged to use only accurate and verifiable information. This is why credit repair in Philadelphia is so popular. As the agencies have to comply with The Fair Credit Reporting Act, mistakes are deleted through formal disputes.
Experts recommend checking reports and scores irregularly. This is particularly important before applying for any lending services. Every lender has unique requirements in terms of acceptable scores. If your level is below the threshold, you should boost your credit by fixing or rebuilding it in advance.
Where to Find the Documents
Download your history online. All three versions may be obtained from the only authorized source — www.annualcreditreport.com. To submit a request, you need to share basic personal details and your Social Security number. Alternatively, send your request by mail or reach the agency on 1-877-322-8228. Now, when you can get all three reports every week, this is a great opportunity to get your finances back on track.
The second option is getting the data from the bureaus separately. For example, holders of a myEquifax account are entitled to a free copy of their records every year. Additional copies may be available for free under special circumstances. These conditions are stipulated in The Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Unemployed individuals, citizens planning to apply for employment, or recipients of public welfare assistance are entitled to one additional copy. It is also provided to residents who suspect they are victims of fraud. These are just some exceptions.
What Information Is Included?
Each version of your borrowing past is unique. The agencies do not share their records, so every document is generated independently. Each of your lenders may share data with one or more bureaus. As a result, getting three versions is essential. Otherwise, you will not get the full picture.
Different bureaus and entities use different calculation models based on different reports. The two most common systems in the US, FICO and VantageScore, consider similar combinations of factors. Your prior payments are the most consequential element, as it defines 35% and 40% of the totals, respectively.
The total size of the debt, including balances and limits, defines around a third of each. This is why paying off your credit card debt or getting a new card can push the total up. The other factors are the age of your records, new accounts, and credit mix. All of these criteria are assessed based on the reports only.
These documents are highly important, as they summarize your financial past. Providers of lending services share data with the bureaus regularly. The range of information includes the following.
- Personal details, such as full name and any former names, addresses and employers (current and previous), and social security number.
- Description of your accounts (cards, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages): prior payments, limits and balances, dates of opening and closing.
- Derogatories like collections and bankruptcies.
- Hard inquiries, which are created whenever an institution checks your report.
If You Find Mistakes
Any of the listed details may be erroneous. Consumers find accounts that do not belong to them, wrong amounts, misspellings, outdated information, or false events. For instance, you may spot a missed payment or eviction that never happened. Any inconsistencies may be disputed and removed through a formal procedure.
How to Request Deletion
Only the bureau that generated the report can delete the wrong information. Before contacting the agency, collect evidence to support your claim. Contact your lender to obtain official documents, such as bank statements. Make copies of the originals to use as proof.
Next, write your letter using the template from The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or other sources. No universal format exists. Remember to include all the crucial information: your personal details, the accounts, the derogatories, and the reasons for removal. Enclose copies of the evidence and send the letter by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
Unfortunately, you may discover multiple inaccuracies in one, two, or all three reports. In this case, fixing is complicated. Many borrowers prefer paid services to save time and effort. Repair professionals will retrieve your records, identify any disputable points, gather evidence, and contact the bureaus — all on your behalf.
The official credit reports describe different aspects of your financial experience. They list your accounts, amounts, and any negative events reflecting the non-fulfillment of obligations. Check the contents regularly, as they define your score, the range, and the cost of lending services. Downloading the files is the easiest way.