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Let’s get right to the point: You need to pull a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com at least once a year.
Doing so is an excellent way to make sure your identity has not been stolen. And that’s important in the wake of events like the massive Equifax data breach.
Also, mistakes in your credit report can unfairly damage your credit score.
So, how do you get your credit report for free? Let’s walk through the process, step by step:
1. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and click “Request Yours Now!” Then, click “Request Your Credit Reports.”
2. Fill in the personal information form. The web address for AnnualCreditReport.com begins with “https,” which tells you the site should be secure. There are other assurances of security. For instance, it says your Social Security number “will be encrypted for your protection.” You can also check a box to choose that only the last four digits will be visible when you get your credit report.
3. Pick which credit report you want to see. You’re entitled to one free report from each of the three big credit-reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — every year.
4. Answer some questions. When you choose a specific report, you will be sent to that credit-reporting agency’s website. You will be asked some questions so that the agency can verify your identity. You might want to have credit cards and loan account numbers handy, just in case you’re asked to produce them.
The multiple-choice questions can be tricky. For instance, you might be asked things such as:
- What county you lived in several years ago
- Which phone number you used previously.
5. Then, you will be delivered to your credit report. You will also have the option to print out the report.
6. When you’re done, click on “return to AnnualCreditReport.com.” If you want, you can ask for your other two reports. But it might make more sense to review one of these reports every four months. You get just one free report from each of the big three credit bureaus a year, so generally it makes sense to spread out these requests.
For more tips on boosting your credit, check out:
- “Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 Moves”
- “6 Ways to Keep a Stellar Credit Score in Retirement”
- “Ask Stacy: Can I Repair My Own Credit?”
When was the last time you reviewed a credit report? Did you find errors? Tell us about your experience by commenting below or on our Facebook page.