How to Order a Credit Report
When you apply for a personal loan,
credit card, or mortgage, your lender usually orders a report that contains information
about your credit file. This allows them to look at other personal information in addition
to the data you've already supplied them in the credit application.
What is a Credit Report?
A credit report is simply a document that outlines your credit history. The report
contains details of your last residence, employment history, payment history, whether
you've declared bankruptcy, and other personal information relative to your finances.
Credit reports are made available by what's known as a "consumer reporting
agencies" -- the most common type is a credit bureau. By collecting important
personal financial data, they make your credit history available to lenders, credit card
companies, insurance companies, department stores, employers (with your consent), mortgage
companies, and even landlords.
Credit bureaus make a profit by collecting and selling your personal information. They
comb public records to see if you have any previous foreclosures, tax liens, or court
judgements against you. They combine this information with your payment habits to form a
summary of your credit history. Creditors or lenders then evaluate your report and
determine if you meet the right criteria to qualify.
When should I check it?
Your ability to get a loan or other credit rests on the accuracy of this report -- so it's
recommended that you get a copy of your report at least once a year to make sure your
credit information is correct.
Generally, if you're thinking of buying a new home, car, or maybe applying for a new
credit card, taking a peek at your credit report beforehand isn't such a bad idea. As a
matter of fact, it will give you an opportunity to correct mistakes or at least lighten
the amount of damage that could be done to your credit.
How do I order a credit report?
You can get a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus listed
Your report will usually include the following: credit inquiries, bankruptcies, payment
history, previous creditors, credit account information, personal identifying information,
and any other information related to your credit history. The price per copy is a nominal
$8.00 for most state residents but may be less -- always check with your credit bureau.
If you've (1) been denied credit because of information in your credit report (request
within 60 days of denial), (2) you receive public assistance, (3) you're unemployed and
intend to apply for a job, (4) your report is inaccurate due to fraud, (5) you're a
resident of a qualified state, or
(6) you haven't requested a copy in the previous 12 months, you may be entitled to a free
copy of your credit profile.
Include the following with your request:
Full name (including Jr., Sr., II)
Spouse's first name (if married)
Social security number
Current and previous addresses within the last 5 years
Current employment information
Telephone number (home)
Date of birth
Equifax Information Service Center
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-0949
Trans Union LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
There are also a number of smaller bureaus
or "local affiliates" who can retrieve your credit report. They receive
information from one of the major bureaus listed above. Your local phone directory should
have a list of some or all of these agencies. Try looking under the topic "Credit
Reporting Agencies" or "Credit Agencies".
Credit and Debt Calculators:
Should I pay off debt or
invest in savings?
What will it take to pay off my balance?
Should I consolidate my
How Much Am I Spending?