How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Report | Understanding the Process + 6 Tips

Hi there, it's Ernest from Trip Astute In this video, we're reviewing how to get your annual credit report for free and why it's important if you're a credit card enthusiast or points collector

(light chiming music) Those of you that watch our videos know that I often recommend that people keep track of their credit score In fact, I checked my credit score on Credit Sesame and Credit Karma every week to make sure that there aren't any major changes to my score However, there is something else that I recommend doing once a year, and that's checking your credit report Some of you might know this, but you can actually request a copy of your credit report every year from a government mandated website called AnnualCreditReportcom

You can also request it from other places including credit score reporting sites, but they often cost a bit of money So, why would you want to review your entire report? Where there's actually many reasons to do this First off, using a credit score service often reflects information from one or two of the credit bureaus, rather than from all three Plus, the information that you're shown is usually your recent history, so if you have something in your credit history from your past that's keeping your score from going up, then you might not have visibility unless you look at your entire credit report The things that you'll want to look out for in your credit report are accounts that you don't recognize like credit cards that may have been opened under your name, or even more common are cards where you're still listed as an authorized user

And incorrect and outdated information, like late payments, incorrect balances, and incorrect addresses Basically, you're looking for any data that might affect your credit score, especially in a negative way To get your free annual report, go to AnnualCreditReportcom and select request your credit reports You'll then be asked to provide your information such as your name, birthday, social security number, current address, and past address

You'll then be asked to select the reports that you want For most people, I suggest requesting all three reports so you have visibility into each one You'll then have to go through the process of proving your identity for each credit bureau Once you get past the security questions, you'll be able to view and download a copy of your report If you have any issues authenticating on the website, you can also request your annual credit report by mail or phone

To file it by mail, all you have to do is fill out the request form and mail it in I'll include links in the video description in case you want to apply that way If you review your credit report and you find an error, you'll have to see whether the error is in all of the reports or in just one or two of the reports Once you identify the errors, you'll need to submit the corrections online since each has their own process for submitting credit report errors and disputes I'll cover it in a separate video

As always, I also want to share some tips to keep in mind Number 1: Make sure you're at the right site There are a lot of similar sounding and looking sites hoping to capitalize on accidental traffic Make sure you're on the right website Number 2: Don't get any of the extra services

When you apply for your free credit report, the site will attempt to up-sell you on all types of credit protection and monitoring services For most people, I don't think you actually need it I suggest avoiding the up-sell and sticking with the free report Number 3: If you fail authenticating online, you can try again For some reason, I failed the authentication process when I tried to access my TransUnion credit report

The site said that I would have to request a report through the mail Though after I continued through the process and got my reports from Experian and Equifax, I just restarted the process and requested only the TransUnion report This time I got different questions which I was able to answer successfully Number 4: Get additional reports when denied credit If you want to see your credit report but requested one less than a year ago, you can still get a copy if you've been denied credit

For example, with a credit card Also, if your information was involved in a security breach like mine was recently with TaskRabbit and my student loan provider, you can often request a copy of your report for free, as well as get free credit monitoring services Number 5: Out-of-date employment information A common error that you'll find on your credit report is out-of-date employment information While it's worth correcting, it probably will not affect your credit rating

Number 6: Keep track of your credit card accounts One of the hardest things to do is to keep track of when you open and close accounts I personally recommend maintaining a spreadsheet of your credit card accounts so you can track information about the account like the opening dates, the close dates, and the annual fees This can also help with keeping track of whether you want to keep a card after the first year If you need a simple tracker, we have one that you can use for free

I'll include it in the video description To be honest, I really dislike the way that the credit bureaus provide information through the annual credit report website I feel like there should be a standardized process for each, but it feels like you're dealing with three unique and distinct businesses Like the fact that I have to go through the security questions three times seems really inefficient, especially since the questions can be pretty confusing and often refer to a small detail from my past I wish there was like one entity that would monitor all reports and discrepancies and then push out any updates or corrections to all three reports

Plus, I don't like that the credit bureaus try to up-sell us services on the site Most of you are savvy enough to avoid the extra services, but I have a feeling that a lot of people probably get suckered into enrolling Despite these frustrations, it's worth getting your annual credit report and monitoring any discrepancies, especially if you're someone that is strategically using your credit cards for cash back and travel Do you check your credit report every year? Have you used AnnualCreditReportcom? If so, please share your experience in the comment section below

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