Your credit report speaks volumes about your creditworthiness. It contains a complete record of your credit history. As such, it not only influences how creditors view you but also determines whether they can trust you with their funds. For this reason, it is important that you check your credit reports at least once per year to ensure the information contained therein is true and accurate.

Points to note before accessing a free credit report

  • Ensure you are accessing a secure website
  • Avoid providing any credit card information for sign up
  • Ensure you read any fine print on the website

How to access a free credit report

1) Annualcreditreport.com

According to a federal law passed in 2003, you are entitled to a free credit report from annualreport.com once every 12 months. Upon request, you can access your credit report from all the three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. While at it, note that you do not have to sign up, enter your credit information, or create an account to access the report. These reports are available in portable document format or you can request to have all the reports mailed to you.

How to order a free report

  • Call a toll free number 1-877-322-822
  • Access the website directly
  • Request via email

Steps to follow while accessing the website

a) Go to annualcreditreport.com

b) Fill in the personal details form: The site is secure and encrypted to protect your information.

c) Choose the type of credit you want to see: You are entitled to a free report from each of the three credit bureaus. You can choose to view them one after the other or have them send the report to your email.

d) Answer some unique questions: Depending on the report you choose to view, the agency will ask you personal questions to verify your identity.

e) Access your printable report: Once your report is delivered, you have the option to view, download, or print it.

f) Click done and return to the annualcredit.com website. It is imperative to note that you can view the other two reports, although it is advisable to stagger them. Doing so will help you monitor your progress more effectively.

2) Credit Karma

Credit Karma gives you the opportunity to access a free credit report anytime you wish from the two major credit bureaus: Equifax and Transunion. Although you have to create an account to use credit karma, you are not required to enter your credit card information. Your credit information is updated once per week.

Besides, Credit Karma provides you with a reasonable explanation of the factors that are contributing to your current credit score. It also uses this data to inform lenders that you are eligible for a loan based on your credit report.

How to order a free report

  • Log into your account directly via a web browser
  • Use the Credit Karma mobile app

3) Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame provides you with a free Transunion credit report and highlights the factors that are affecting your credit scores. To log in or access your report, however, you do not have to enter your credit card information. After creating an account, Credit Sesame updates your report each month and gives you the privilege of accessing it at any time.

Besides being able to view your report any time, you will also receive the Transunion credit score containing reviewed information on your credit performance. This way, you will know where to improve. It will also make recommendations for credit cards and offer other financial information.

How to order a free report

  • Sign up on the Credit Sesame mobile app
  • Log into your account via a web browser

Other circumstances that might qualify you for a free credit report

1) When you are unemployed and have the intention of applying a job within 60 days

2) When a company takes an adverse action against you, such as denying you insurance, employment, or a loan, you become eligible for a free report provided you notify the credit bureau within 60 days.

3) When your credit report is inaccurate due to fraud or identity theft. After the information has been cleared and changes made, you are eligible for a free credit report.

4) When you request for a report in order to place a fraud alert

5) When you receive public welfare assistance

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