Getting your free annual credit report is easy… or should be!
There is a web site you can visit to obtain a free annual credit report from each of the major credit repositories. The process is more difficult than necessary. Even so…
You should still just do it!
When you visit the site and begin the process you are presented with two options to view your credit. The first option is to have the credit report(s) mailed to your address on record. The second option is to be able to view your report(s) immediately on screen. To accomplish the last option you must answer several multiple choice questions.
The questions can be tricky.
I was assisting a former client with this task today and one of the questions was, “Which state issued your social security number?” The state in which she was born and lived for over 15 years was not one of the choices. The state where she moved to was. Here’s the tricky part: the right answer is “None of the above” as states don’t issue social security numbers, the Social Security Agency does.
Another question asked who her current mortgage lender was and a third question wanted to know what her current mortgage payment was. It was multiple choice and presented a range of payments for each answer.
A lot of questions are asked concerning revolving debt and several asked about people with whom you live currently or in the past.
You have to be very sure of your past credit history as your trip through the site.
You must be aware of payments, approximate balances and names of your creditors. For instance, you may have a Master Card. Do you know the name of the bank or financial institution which issued your credit or debit card? You should for this exercise.
The site is clunky and not user friendly whatsoever.
It feels like you are tripping through the sites as you don’t visit just one – almost as though there is stuff scattered all over the floor and you can’t help but stumble.
When you first arrive at AnnualCreditReport.com you are immediately asked to provide your state of residence. On the second page you are asked for certain personal identification information such as your legal name, birthday, social security number and current address. Make no mistake – they are collecting information about you to include in their database.
Once you successfully complete this page you are then given the opportunity to select which credit bureau you wish to review. After making your choice you are taken to the website of the vendor you chose. Here is where you will encounter the series of questions we mentioned above.
If you can successfully provide the correct answers your report will then appear in a pop-up window with a report number. You can either review it, print it or save the number and return at a later time. I suggest that you print it and save the number in case you want to return at a later date.
I use Adobe PDF as my printer. This creates a PDF of any document that you choose. It’s portable, can be emailed and eliminates the need for storing paper and being near a physical printer.
At least one of the credit bureaus wants to charge you money for your credit score.
When I requested a single report from Experian just over a month ago I received my FICO credit score as part of the report. I thought that would be typical of all vendors.
Much to my chagrin we found that those bums at Equifax want you to pay $7.95 for the benefit of seeing your score as maintained by them.
When we requested the TransUnion report a score did not appear. But, there was no request for payment. Our client thought she may have previously requested this information but, wasn’t sure.
Tip, Tricks and a Few Recommendations
On that first page, be sure to click the box that allows your social security number to only identify that last four digits.
Remember the tab button towards the middle top of each credit vendor’s page that says “Return to AnnualCreditReport.com”. Seemingly, the hardest part was to leave each credit vendor’s page and return to annual credit report dot com and continue the process. They don’t make it easy nor intuitive. We didn’t but any of the extra services which they were hawking and perhaps that’s why it was so difficult.
If you need to review your credit for some upcoming event like a home purchase or refinance then perhaps you should review all three bureaus for the information they have on file. You will want to make sure everything is correct. You can only do this once a year.
The alternative proposition is to review one bureau every four months. You can schedule this as though it were a doctor’s appointment. The bureaus are known to share information amongst themselves so in looking at one you possibly gain an insight into what all three have on file. Reviewing your credit more frequently allows you to take action sooner if there is a problem.
You can find more info here on your free annual credit report.