How to Get Your Credit Reports for Free

November 8, 2011

The first step in assessing your personal finances is to obtain a copy of your credit report. Your credit report will provide several key pieces of information that will help you develop a clear picture of your financial condition. A credit report tells you: (1) who you owe; (2) how much you owe; and (3) whether you have missed payments to creditors.

Your credit report states the name and address of your creditors. This is the same information that you are required to provide should you decide to file bankruptcy. Often a creditor statement can be vague about where to send notices or correspondence. The information on your credit report is supplied by the creditor, and is presumptively correct.

Your credit report shows the total balance of your debt and the monthly payment. This information is also provided by the creditor to the credit reporting bureau. This information may or may not be correct, but it is a good estimate if you are unsure about what you owe.

Finally, your credit report contains information about payments and missed payments. It also contains information regarding collection agencies. This information can be important in calculating an arrearage for negotiating a repayment plan, or simply for giving notice to a collector about a personal bankruptcy.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You are entitled to a free report every twelve months. The credit bureaus have established a central hub for accommodating consumer requests at AnnualCreditReport.com. Through this website you can order a completely free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. You have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time.

The “free” reports provided by AnnualCreditReport.com are completely free and regulated by the federal law. There are no hidden costs or subscriptions, unlike other “free” services advertised on radio and television. You do not need a credit card to obtain your reports.

If you are overwhelmed with debts you cannot pay, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney and discuss your options for restructuring your finances. Your bankruptcy attorney can help guide you in obtaining copies of your credit reports.

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