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Free Annual Credit Report

Annual Credit Report

Free Annual Credit Reports

How to safely receive your free annual credit reports without getting scammed

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Federal law allows you to get free annual copies of your personal credit reports

Annual Credit Report In an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), one of the most notable rights granted to all U.S. consumers is the ability to obtain a free copy of their personal credit report, or "credit file disclosure," once every 12 months from each of the national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis). FACTA language and the credit bureaus refer to this free annual credit report as an annual credit file disclosure.

Detailed instructions for requesting your free annual credit reports are provided below.

This right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency is available to residents of every U.S. state and territory. However, it extends only to the credit report itself, and does not include your credit score. You must still purchase your credit score from the credit bureaus, if desired, and the bureaus provide you with frequent reminders and opportunities to do so.


How Frequently Can I Request My Free Credit Reports?

You can request a free report once every 12 months from each national credit reporting agency.

Though it is referred to as an “annual” credit file disclosure, the time period between free annual credit report requests from each individual credit bureau is actually 12 months, not "annually" or within a calendar year. For example, if you request your free FACTA credit file disclosure from a credit reporting agency in December of 2013, you are not able to submit a request for another free FACTA credit report from that same credit reporting agency in January of 2014. You must wait 12 months, until December 2014, before you are able to order another free credit report from that same agency. You can, however, purchase or obtain additional copies of your credit reports at any time.

“Do-It-Yourself” Credit Monitoring

Because many creditors only report to the bureaus once per month or quarter, you can stagger your FACTA free credit file requests and request a copy of your report from one credit bureau at a time throughout the year (i.e. one every three or four months), in a form of limited self credit monitoring.

A careful review of your credit report from each bureau at least once per year is certainly more preferable than not at all. However, you should also understand that: 1) many creditors do not report to all three of the major bureaus, so the information reported can vary between reports; and 2) some creditors may still attempt to hold you liable for fraudulent accounts or transactions that are not identified and reported as such in a timely manner, citing negligence on your part. To avoid this, prompt and careful review of your monthly bank account and credit statements is very important, and more frequent requests and review of your credit reports may be beneficial.


How to Order Your Free Credit Reports under FACTA

There are three ways for you to request your free annual credit file disclosures (personal credit reports), from the national credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis. Regardless of which method you use to request your report, you will be required to verify your identity by providing personal information including, but not limited to: your full name, date of birth, and Social Security number. You may also be required to correctly answer a brief series of identity verification questions for your protection.

Tip:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have established joint processes for allowing consumers to request their free annual credit reports. Innovis reports must be requested through separate processes, which are also described in this article.

Request Option 1:  Order your reports through the official website

To Request Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Credit Reports:  To obtain your free annual credit file disclosure from one or all of the three primary national credit reporting agencies, you can visit the official website established by these agencies:

To Request an Innovis Report:  You will need to order your Innovis report separately through the Innovis website:

Request Option 2:  Call toll free

To avoid many of the issues with the official Annual Credit Report website, you can also request your free annual reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by calling the special toll free number established by these credit bureaus:  1-877-322-8228

You will need to complete a verification process over the phone to confirm your identity. Your reports will be mailed to you within 15 days, and you should receive them within 2 to 3 weeks.

Innovis maintains a separate toll free number for ordering reports: 1-800-540-2505

You will need to complete a verification process over the phone to confirm your identity. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, and an automated system is available after-hours. You should receive your report within 3 to 5 business days.

Request Option 3:  Print and mail the Annual Credit Report Request Form

You may also obtain the credit reporting agencies' Annual Credit Report Request form and mail your requests for your free credit reports.

For Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion:  You can download the Annual Credit Report Request Form from:

Print and mail the completed form, along with photocopies of the required identity documentation, to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, Georgia

For Innovis:  You can obtain the Innovis Credit Report Request Form from:

Print and mail the completed form, along with photocopies of the required identity documentation, to:

Attention: Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1689
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Order your free annual credit reports safelyCaution - 4 important considerations when ordering your free credit reports online

You can elect to obtain your free credit reports instantly by using the official Annual Credit Report website. The site itself is secure, but there are some important issues that you need to be aware of when preparing to order your reports through the official website:

  1. There are many websites that are deceptively, and intentionally, similar in name. is the only official website from which to obtain your free reports from these three bureaus. The official site does not use pop-up ads, and the reports are free - you are not required to enroll in any programs in order to receive them. Some of the deceptively similar websites are actually fee-based sites operated by the credit bureaus themselves.

  2. There are hundreds of fraudulent websites established that attempt to take advantage of consumers who inadvertently mistype the official website address. Be careful to confirm that you have correctly typed the website's Internet address into your web browser before proceeding, and do not rely on the information shown in web links or search engine results.

  3. Pay careful attention to the opt-in / opt-out marketing and promotion options that are displayed on the credit bureaus' individual report request pages. In some cases, the default option may be set as an affirmative or automatic "opt-in", which means that you are affirmatively indicating that you do desire to be sent promotions and other marketing materials by the bureau or its partners unless you manually change the option setting or un-check the box prior to submitting your request.

  4. When ordering your free reports, you may need to navigate offers to purchase your credit score and various fee-based credit monitoring services offered by the bureaus.
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This article written and ©Copyright by Michael Barnett. All rights reserved. Published with permission.

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