When you're looking to buy a home or make a big purchase after getting hitched, checking credit reports for each of you is a great place to start. Checking your credit reports every year can also help you catch identity theft. However, many websites that seem to be offering free credit reports actually make you pay at the last minute or enter your credit card information to sign up for a free trial of a service that will bill you the next month if you don't cancel. Skip these fakes and use the government-authorized website that has no strings attached.
Go to the Annual Credit Report website at annualcreditreport.com. This is the only government-authorized source for free credit reports.
Fill out the personal information required, which includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number and current address. If you have lived at your current address for less than two years, providing your previous address as well assists in pulling up your credit report.
Select the credit bureaus from which you would like to receive a credit report. You actually have three separate credit reports, one from each company that gathers credit data. You can access all three reports at once or stagger them throughout the year.
Follow the on-site instructions to view the credit report from the first bureau you selected. Enter any additional personal information required to pull up the report. Expect to answer questions based on information on your credit report to verify your identity.
Print your credit report if you want a hard copy. Having this can help you see what you need to work on to turn your fair or good credit into great credit.
Return to the Annual Credit Report website and select the next credit report to view, if applicable.
- Once you have your credit report, look over it for errors. Correcting errors by filing a dispute with the credit bureau can improve your credit score. Each credit report includes instructions for filing a dispute.
- You can also request your credit report over the phone by calling 877-322-8228. If you're really old-fashioned and want to request it through the mail, the Federal Trade Commission has a form to fill out and mail in.