Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are nationwide consumer reporting companies required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA to provide consumers a copy of their free credit report with score each year. This Act is implemented by the Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency that also promotes privacy and accuracy of information from these three companies.
In general, a credit score is the measure of credit risk computed from a collection of credit reports using a standardized formula. It includes information of your address, how you pay your bills, and whether you have filed for bankruptcy or have been sued or arrested. The scale for credit score ranges from 349 to 849; indicative, for example, that a 640 rating will most likely give you difficulty getting a good loan. This kind of information are sold by consumer reporting companies to insurers, creditors, employers and businesses for evaluation of your credit, employment, insurance and home rental.
So why would you want to have a copy of your credit report? Because it contains information whether you can get a loan and how much you will have to pay; to make sure that it is up-to-date, accurate, and complete before doing a major purchase for car, insurance, house or even to apply for a job. Getting your report on a regular basis makes you manage your accounts well and lets you venture on possible ways to improve or raise your score. This is also one of the many ways to combat identity theft which has been widespread today especially to internet-related transactions.
To get a free credit report with score, you need to provide your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number. You may also need to indicate previous addresses if you have moved in the last two years. To ensure your security, every nationwide consumer reporting company asks for information that is exclusive to you.
Along with the credit report, it is also advisable to request for credit monitoring to be updated of any strange transaction or activity on your accounts such as change of account information and opening and closing of investments and bank accounts.
Usually a free credit report with score can be accessed immediately although it may even take longer if the nationwide consumer reporting company requires more information to verify your identity.
Under a state law, consumers living in Vermont, Georgia, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland have access to free credit report with score.