Even if you have good credit and don’t need to review or dispute any negative items, it’s a good idea to monitor and keep copies of your annual credit reports.
As a consumer, this helps to ensure fair credit pricing while also protecting you against identity theft.
Reviewing your free reports also lets you know where you stand credit-wise and allows you to check for any potential problems you might not be aware of. Mistakes happen and the sooner you can catch them, the better off your credit will be.
Where To Go For Your Free Annual Credit Report
If you’re looking for your free annual report from each of the big 3 — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — you can get copies of your free reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
The website is operated by the three credit bureaus and is authorized by federal law. You can access each of your reports once every 12 months for free. So if you order your TransUnion credit report on September 30, you can’t get another free copy until October 1 of the following year.
After that, you can pay to receive more frequent copies, which usually cost around $15 each, or you can typically order all three together for a discounted price. You might find this helpful if you’ve requested changes to your credit reports or filed a dispute and want to confirm that the information has been updated.
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It’s also smart to p
ay for your credit report if you need a faster dispute process. Normally, credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate a dispute. But if you get your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com, they have 45 days to respond.
When ordering your credit reports you can take one of two approaches. First, you can order all three at once to compare the information listed in each one.
This might be a good idea if you’ve never accessed your credit reports before and want to make sure they’re correct and complete. It’s also a good tactic if you’re about to apply for a major loan or mortgage because again, you want the information to be the most accurate reflection of your creditworthiness.
Your other option is to stagger when you order each report. This could be helpful while you track your progress of repairing your credit. The 12-month wait period applies to each individual credit bureau’s report, so you could order one every four months to make sure everything looks correct.
This ongoing monitoring also helps prevent identity theft because it may be the only way to notice if an account has been opened in your name by somebody else.