To get a free annual credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com, the centralized website for obtaining consumer credit reports from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Free annual credit reports can also be obtained by completing a request form through the Federal Trade Commission's website and then mailing it to the Annual Credit Report Request Service, or by contacting the request service via a toll-free phone number.
The three nationwide credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, individuals may receive one free annual report from each agency, according to the Federal Trade Commission. An individual may elect to request all three reports simultaneously, or to request one at a time.
To obtain a credit report, an individual must furnish his name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. Each credit reporting agency may also ask the user to furnish answers to various security questions in order to discourage fraudulent activity, according to the Federal Trade Commission. After requesting a credit report online, it is immediately accessible. Reports that are requested via phone or by mail are processed and sent out within 15 days of the date the request is received.
There are certain other situations in which an individual is allowed to obtain a free credit report, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If a company takes adverse action against an individual, he may request a free copy of his credit report within 60 days of the action. An individual who is unemployed and planning to look for work within 60 days is also allowed a free annual report. In addition, individuals who have errors in their credit report as a result of fraud and individuals on welfare are permitted to obtain a free credit report.