Purpose of a Credit Report
There are a multitude of people, who are looking to rent buy a home, apply for a job, insurance or credit card or any other type of financial assistance. In order that their applications are processed, their creditor, employer or insurer asks for their ‘financial credibility’. Such information is collectively called the credit report and contains the candidate’s personal information, credit history, public records and if he has ever been bankrupt and eventually sued for it. To evaluate your standing before applying for any of the above mentioned financial assistance’s, you can also request for this credit report and this article, among other aspects, provides the details about how to get your credit card report.
A Quick Background
Dating back to 2003 a provision of FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act) evolved out of an amendment to FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). This provision mandates the provision of a free credit report, every year, by each of the three credit rating agencies, when requested by the consumer. These reports would enable the consumers to validate the information in them and safeguard against any imposter. The three agencies are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. To implement this directive of the FCRA they formed ‘Central Source’ – a joint venture company who created the website http://annualcreditreport.com besides having a toll free number and a mailing address to cater to the need of the consumer to request for a free credit report.
The process of getting the Report
This site annualcreditreport.com is the only site authorized by the US Government to provide the free credit report. Consumers need to set up an account by providing some personal information. Depending on the agency they choose, the consumers are directed to the respective sites where they need to answer additional questions to verify themselves. The agencies may need to have the consumer’s account setup on their site. Apart from using the site, the consumer may ask for the report through the toll free number 1-877-322-8228 or though postal mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box No 105281, Atlanta, Georgia. The report is sent by mail after the request is processed.
This section answers some common questions that the consumers may have.
How frequently can this free report be procured?
This can be done once in a year. No wonder the site is named as annualreport.com. The report can be requested at the same time from each of the agencies or it can be spread over the year. The later strategy allows the consumer to check the information contained in the report over a period of time.
What inputs are needed to get the report?
The consumer’s name, address, SSN and date of birth are necessary inputs for getting this report. The agency may ask for additional identity related information if the need arises.
How long does it take to get the report?
If ordered online, the report is available instantly. If the request is made through phone or postal mail, it takes around 15 days from the receipt of the request, for the report to be sent to the address mentioned. Any exceptions in the process (like requirement of additional information) lead to extra time.
What is the need of the report?
The report enables the consumer to ensure –
- That the information contained therein is true, relevant and current.
- That there has not been any identity theft. This happens when an imposter uses the personal information of the consumer for fraudulent use like applying for a credit card. If that happens and the imposter does not pay the credit card bill, it shows as a negative indicator on the credit report.
Correction of inaccurate information
The credit reporting agency gets the information (for the report) from 3rd party information providers. Hence both of them are responsible to ensure the correctness of the reported data. The consumer can write to the reporting agency about wrong information. In case of any disputed item, the consumer can communicate to the creditor or information provider about it. The process of rectifying the information is quite well defined by the FCRA.
- Consumers are advised to check the website URL when requesting for this report. There are some websites with a wrong spelling of this URL (annualreport.com). The user may inadvertently type that address and be taken to such websites which ask for personal information from the consumer. That information may be misused to the consumer’s disadvantage. So consumers need to be extra careful and make sure they are on the correct webpage to prevent fraudulent use of their information.
- This report cannot be obtained from credit reporting agencies like Innovis, PRBC and Chexsystems who are non participating members.
In the interest of the consumer the following sites may be helpful.
Sample credit report