Monday, June 18, 2007

Annual Credit Reports

Not sure what brought this up now, but for some reason I thought to go get the "free" annual credit reports that we are entitled to here in the US at least once every year. I started with AnnualCreditReport.com (the central clearing house setup by the 3 major credit reporting agencies) which asked me for the standard credit information (name, ssan, address, dob, etc.).

Once I entered that information they prompted me to select which of the 3 agencies I would like to review the report at (yes, you can select multiple). I selected all 3, but now, after thinking about it, perhaps I should have selected one only and rotated around the 3 agences throughout the year -- that way I can get a new checkup every 4 months rather than only one per year -- Oh well).

The web site then forwards you to each of the agencies where you will go through a different process at each of them to further verify your identity and get access to your credit report. My experience at each of them:

  • The first agency I was sent to was TransUnion where I had to create an account in order to get my report. I was then prompted for 2 account numbers (which I had to go find) and then the tried to upsell me a copy of my credit score for $7.95 before they would let me see my credit report. When I was done, the process had taken so $#@%ing long that my session at AnnualCreditReport.com had expired and I had to start all over for the remaining two agencies.
  • On to Equifax, where they wanted to know which provider I opened an account with in 2005 and what was the payment (much easier to deal with), then they too wanted to upsell me my credit score for $7.95. No need to create an account. Got my report and printed it.
  • And, finally, Experian ((the last of the 3). This time, I went back to AnnualCreditReport.com fairly quickly, so no need to re-enter all of my information. Experian started with verification of my ssan (last 4 digits), then they asked for verification of 2 accounts (who gave me a mortgage at a particular time and who gave me an auto loan at a different particular time) as well as the name of the county in which I live. Poof. I got to see my credit report. No need to create an account, no attempt to upsell me with the credit score (at least not as an intrusive click-through step -- it may have been there somewhere else on the page that I just ignored).

Moral of the story.... be tenacious and make them give you a copy of your report -- it IS free (as long as you don't fall for the upsell). Unless you think you have been a victim of identity theft, I would stagger the reports from each agency as many of them carry the same information as the others and this kind of gives you better coverage over the year (there's a lot someone can do in the 12 months between your annual reviews if you do all 3 at the same time).

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1 comment:

CreditSmart said...

The reason why you should get credit reports from all the three bureaus is that sometimes one of them (or even all of them) have some errors in your credit information. And the sooner you find out about it the better.