To request a free credit report in the United States, use AnnualCreditReport.com, or call the toll-free numbers provided by credit agencies, explains USA.gov. The toll-free credit agency numbers, including fraud hotlines, can be accessed by using the Unclaimed Money, Taxes, and Credit Reports link on the USA.gov homepage.
Federal law allows individuals to receive a free copy of their credit report from each credit reporting company every 12 months, explains AnnualCreditReport.com. Free credit reports do not contain credit scores, but they do contain the information used by credit agencies to calculate that score, explains USA.gov.
To get an online report from AnnualCreditReport.com after clicking the request link, enter your personal information, such as name, address and Social Security Number, and then pick which companies' reports you wish to receive. AnnualCreditReport.com then asks applicants a number of questions about their financial records to ensure that only the proper individual receives the free credit report.
Banks and other lenders use credit scores to assess the risk posed by individuals, states USA.gov. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and credit agencies base scores on various individual financial factors, including loan payments, bill payments and total debt. Late payments and higher debt result in a lower credit score. A score of 700 or above puts an individual in good standing. The three main credit reporting companies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.