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How do I get an Instant Credit Report?

Article Details
  • Written By: Donna Reynolds
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A credit report is a rundown of an individual’s payment history. It lists all open accounts with balances, and the payment pattern for each account. This report is used to calculate a FICO score, which is the number by which lenders make a decision as to one’s credit worthiness. FACTA does not require free distribution of FICO scores.

A credit report is used by lenders to determine whether or not a loan should be granted, and what interest rate will be charged. It is also often used by employers as part of the hiring process and by landlords when screening potential renters.

In December 2003, the U.S. Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) requiring the three major credit-reporting agencies to provide individuals a yearly credit report for no charge.

In order to act in accordance with FACTA, the three named credit agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion jointly established a Web site for consumers to use to request their annual free instant credit report. Individuals without computer access or who prefer to make this request by phone can call 1-877-322-8228.

A free instant credit report can also be requested by mail by sending a letter with your name, address, and Social Security number to:

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

It is not recommended to request a free instant credit report from any source other than Annual Credit Report. This is the only site authorized to provide this information. Submitting your personal information to any other site is an invitation to identity theft.

The only criteria for using any of these methods to obtain an instant credit report is that the requester cannot have obtained a report within the past twelve months.

Checking your credit report can do much more than serve as a means by which to determine open accounts, payment patterns, and credit-worthiness. A credit report can also alert an individual when his or her identity has been compromised. Each year, millions of people have their credit information stolen and used by identity thieves to open accounts. A careful check of your credit report for accounts that you did not open can be the first indication that your identity has been stolen.

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