How to Get a Yearly Free Credit Report From the Government

By Amie Martin
calendar for 2007 (may) image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com

Your credit report is your financial identity and it's important to stay on top of it. The government understands this, and the Federal Trade Commission gives you legal entitlement to your credit reports for free annually and authorizes only one source: AnnualCreditReport.com. There are three credit bureaus---Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each credit bureau may report different information, so take advantage of your legal right and request all three. Review the information on each, correct errors if applicable, and take steps to improve your rating.

Online

Launch the Federal Trade Commision's only authorized annual credit report website, AnnualCreditReport.com.

Select your state from the drop down list and click "Request Report."

Complete the online form. You will need your name, date of birth, social security number, current address and previous address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years.

Enter the characters (combination of case-sensitive letters and numbers) you see to the left of the text box into the text box and click "Request Report."

Click the box next to one of the three government-authorized credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) to request your report from that credit bureau. You may select one, two or all three.

Click "Next" to continue.

Click "Next" again to launch the first (or only) credit bureau website you selected. Enter your validation information when prompted (last four digits of your SSN, for example) and click "Submit," "Enter" or "Continue" (each site differs but will prompt you accordingly).

Follow the prompts for the credit bureau website you selected and click "Submit," "Enter" or "Continue" when finished. You may have to answer identity validation questions.

Print your receipt and/or save your report number for future reference. You can access your report online during the next 12 months, though the information on the report will not be updated.

Click "Return to AnnualCreditReport.com" at the top of the webpage.

Repeat this process for each credit bureau you selected if you chose more than one.

Click "Close" on the AnnualCreditReport.com webpage when finished with each credit bureau.

Mail

Launch the Federal Trade Commission's "Information on Free Annual Credit Reports" webpage (see Resources) and click "Annual Credit Report Request form" under the heading "How do I request my free credit report."

Download and complete the "Annual Credit Report Request" form using a black or blue pen.

Select the credit bureau(s) from which you want your free annual report--Experian, Equifax and/or TransUnion. You may select one, two or all three.

Fold--do not staple or tape--the completed form (no signature necessary), place in a #10 envelope (common letter-size envelope), affix First-Class mail postage and mail to:

Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

About the Author

Amie Martin has more than 20 years of publishing experience in proofreading, editing, writing, design and layout. She writes for various websites, specializing in branding, marketing and technical communications. Martin has an Associate of Applied Science in merchandising from Bay State College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.