According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, all consumers are entitled to free credit profile numbers, also known as credit reports, from the three main credit reporting companies of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion every 12 months, states the Federal Trade Commission. They can order the reports online at the federally authorized website Annualcreditreport.com, by mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service or using a toll-free number. Consumers should not contact the individual companies to request their free reports.
Consumers can order their free reports all together or space them throughout the year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. To order them, they need to give their name, address, birthdate and Social Security number. The credit reporting companies may ask further questions to verify identity before issuing the reports. Apart from their free annual reports, consumers are entitled to additional reports if a company denies them credit, they are unemployed and seeking work, or they have been a fraud victim.
Employers, insurers and lenders use credit reports as an indication of financial stability, so it is important for consumers to periodically check their reports to be sure that they are up to date and accurate, advises the Federal Trade Commission. If the reports contain errors, consumers can contact the credit reporting companies and the original providers of the information to correct the problems. The companies must investigate the alleged inaccuracies, report the results and make necessary changes.