When you Need More Than One Free Credit Report

Hopefully by now you are aware that you are entitled to free copies of your credit reports once per year because of a federal law known as the FACT Act. And you may also know that the only source for the free reports designated by that law is:

Annual Credit Report
Phone: 1-877-322-8228
Online: www.annualcreditreport.com
Mail: Download and print the request form from the above site and mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Your access to the free reports doesn’t necessarily end there, though. You can get additional free reports from each of the three bureaus if you:

Live in one of these states:
Colorado
Georgia
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Jersey
Puerto Rico
Vermont

If you reside in one of these states you can actually get at least six free reports per year since you get reports from each credit bureau separately. You can space out the timing of the reports, looking at a new report once every two months if you meet the following criteria:

You were denied credit, employment or insurance
You are entitled to free copies of any credit report that was used to take adverse action against you. For example, if you get turned down for a credit card because a potential creditor saw some collections accounts on your TransUnion credit report, you get a copy of that report for free. If they looked at all three reports in making their decision, you get copies of all three reports. You need to contact the credit bureaus within 60 days of being notified of the adverse action to take advantage of this opportunity. The information about which reports were used in the decision and how to contact the bureaus will be listed on the notice you are sent by the organization that took the adverse action.

You’re unemployed and looking for work
If you are out of work and will try to find a job within the next 60 days, you can contact the credit bureaus to get a free report from each of them.

You receive government assistance
This is another case in which you could get six free reports per year, or even nine reports if you live in one of the states that gives you a free extra report.

You believe you have been the victim of identity theft
If you believe for any reason that you may have incorrect information on your credit report because someone has stolen your information, you are entitled to a free report from each of the three bureaus.

If any of the above applies to you, contact the credit bureaus directly to get your extra free report or reports. Here’s the contact information for each bureau:

Equifax: 800.685.1111
Experian: 888.397.3742
TransUnion: 800.888.4213

It’s always best to get your credit reports either from the consolidated service set up by federal law or through the credit bureaus directly. Although there are several companies advertising “free credit reports,” these reports are often only partial reports that come with strings attached in the fine print, like monthly recurring payments charged to your credit card.

Also keep in mind that accessing your own credit reports never impacts your FICO credit score – the overwhelmingly most common score used by lenders.

Revised January 2016.

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