Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. Any legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so you should consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. You may not rely on this article as legal advice, nor as an endorsement of any particular legal understanding.
Credit reports are much like a version of an adult report card, reflecting all your wins and struggles in the financial world. And while you know that a credit report is vital to obtaining loans and services, you may not know what is reflected on this report. What is the best site to get a credit report many people ask? Well, that depends on the services a person is looking for.
Credit Reports from the “Big Three”
Credit is reported by the three primary credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that all persons are entitled to obtain a free credit report annually from each company. That doesn’t mean you need to contact all three organizations individually -- in fact, you shouldn’t according to the FTC. Instead, you can access your reports through a centralized website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address.
The free federally mandated reports can be obtained from only one website at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Requestors must complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
While traditional rules have stated that persons are allowed one free credit report per year, pandemic rules have modified this stipulation. During the pandemic, persons may use the process above to get a free credit report each week. There are also circumstances that allow persons to obtain an additional free credit report due to an adverse action. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a free credit report due to fraud alert, becoming unemployed, receiving public assistance, or living in a state state offers a free or reduced-price credit report.
In addition, Equifax offers an additional service which allows for six free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-519. Equifax additionally states, you can access a free credit score on their website at the “myEquifax dashboard and enroll in Equifax Core Credit ™ for a free monthly Equifax credit report and a free monthly VantageScore credit score, based on Equifax data.”
Credit Reports from an Adverse Action
Credit reports from an adverse action will typically occur if persons are applying for a real estate rental, an auto loan, or insurance. Adverse actions may also occur if persons are denied employment due to a credit report. When the subject of an adverse action, the person (usually an applicant) will get an adverse action notice. Credit Karma describes this, “An adverse action notice is an explanation that issuers must give you if you’re denied credit — or if you’re given less favorable financing terms — based on your credit history.”
Adverse actions include denial of credit or lease, denial of requested credit terms, change of lease terms as well as denial of benefits or employment based on credit report information. If an adverse action notice is given by a creditor, real estate agent, or manager these parties must provide written notice of the ability to obtain a free credit report within 60 days of the notice and which agency or agencies were used to create the report.
Adverse action notices must also include the name, address, and phone number of the credit agency which report was generated. The agent generating the adverse action must detail that this is not an action directly from the credit reporting agency, and that the applicant has a right to dispute the information directly with the reporting agency. If a credit score is used in a denial, this should be included in the notice as well.
Persons may also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if it is believed that credit was denied in error.
Credit Monitoring from a Free Service
For persons who wish to obtain more than the federally allowed number of free credit reports, it is popular to choose a free credit monitoring agency or service. Each agency will provide slightly different services, guidance, and user experiences. Some of the most popular services as shared by Investopedia include:
- Credit Karma - Rated highly for free reports and scores, Credit Karma pulls information from Transunion and Equifax and uses the Vantage score model for credit scores.
- Credit Sesame - Using Vantage scores directly from Transunion, users can get free credit reports as well as $50,000 in fraud resolution real es
- WalletHub - A service valued for credit alert functionality, credit reports from TransUnion and the TransUnion VantageScore.
Persons may also be able to get free credit reports or free credit scores from many credit card companies such as Discover or Capital One. Another way to obtain free credit reports, free credit scores, or free credit monitoring is if a person has been victim of a data breach from a larger organization. Many companies will now offer a limited term of free credit monitoring services to persons whose data may have been compromised to help prevent and identify any potential fraud.
The RentSpree Solution
Obtaining a free credit report is generally fast and simple. If planning an upcoming rental, loan, purchase, or other situation where a credit report will be pulled; it’s recommended that the person check their own credit ahead of time. By staying aware of one’s credit and identifying any credit report errors early, persons can save a large amount of headache or heartache. For agents that also do rentals, use RentSpree’s tenant screening services which includes receiving a full Transunion credit report that will not negatively impact the applicant's credit score. Also, agents can benefit from our rental application software to make the renting process seamless.