New to Here’s What You Need to Know

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New to Here’s What You Need to Know

If you aren’t in the habit of requesting copies of your credit reports every year, may be unfamiliar territory. Here’s what you need to know about this free, invaluable resource.

Which credit reports can I request through

You can get your reports from all three of the major credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

What information will I be asked to provide to receive my credit reports?

You’ll be asked for personal information that uses to verify your identity. This includes your name, address, birthdate, and social security number. Upon being transferred to each of the credit reporting bureau websites, you will be asked for additional information, such as previous addresses and loan account details.

Should I request copies of all three reports at once or stagger them throughout the year?

It’s up to you. If you are repairing your credit or planning to apply for a loan soon, it’s a good idea to review all three credit reports now. That way you can detect any errors and take the necessary steps to correct them. Otherwise, you can stagger your requests throughout the year, giving you a snapshot of where your credit generally stands every four months.

How long does it take to receive copies of my credit reports?

As long as it takes to process your request. Credit reports no longer come as hard copies through the mail. They are displayed for you right there on your computer screen. Each of the credit bureaus have options for printing and/or saving a copy for your records.

How do I read my credit reports?

Each of the bureaus does a pretty good job of formatting reports for easy viewing. But if you need help making sense of things, here’s how to decode and interpret your credit reports.

What do I do if I find errors on my credit reports?

Dispute any errors you find with the appropriate credit bureau. You could find the same error on all three reports, or it may be limited to just one or two.

How do I submit my dispute?

Each of the credit bureau websites offers the option to dispute errors online. While this is certainly the simplest, fastest route, it is not the most effective. Take the time to send your dispute in writing via regular certified mail. Here’s a sample letter for requesting removal of inaccurate information.

What do I do if I want to see my credit reports more than once a year?

You can purchase your credit reports via each bureau’s website. Or, you can monitor your credit reports (and scores) for free via credit monitoring sites like Quizzle, Credit Karma, and Credit Sesame.

Learn more about credit reports.

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