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How to Get a Free Credit Report?

Under the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, every American has the right to a free copy of this important consumer document every year from each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The reports will not automatically be sent out. Consumers must request their reports in one of these three ways:

  1. Go to, which is the only authorized source for consumers to access their annual credit report online for free.

  2. Call toll free 877-322-8228.

  3. Complete the form on the back of the "Annual Credit Report Request" brochure, available from the FTC, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You'll be able to order all three credit reports at one time, or you may order at different times throughout the year. It's your choice. Be sure to order from the centralized agency. If you go directly to the credit reporting agencies, you will be charged a fee unless you fit another criteria for a free report. And beware of ordering your free credit reports from fraudulent, deceptive and misspelled domains that will charge for the same service you can get free.

The new ruling doesn't replace the other ways to receive a free credit report. You're still entitled to a free credit report if: you've been denied a loan, insurance policy or job based on your credit report; you're applying for unemployment or receive public assistance; or you currently reside in a state that already offers one or more annual free credit reports.

What's in a credit Score or Fico?

FICO Scores are calculated from a lot of different credit data in your credit report. This data can be grouped into five categories as outlined below. The percentages in the chart reflect how important each of the categories is in determining your FICO score.

These percentages are based on the importance of the five categories for the general population. For particular groups - for example, people who have not been using credit long - the importance of these categories may be somewhat different.

Payment History 35%

  • Account payment information on specific types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.)

  • Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgements, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and/or delinquency (past due items)

  • Severity of delinquency (how long past due)

  • Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items

  • Time since (recency of) past due items (delinquency), adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any)

  • Number of past due items on file

  • Number of accounts paid as agreed

Amounts Owed 30%

  • Amount owing on accounts

  • Amount owing on specific types of accounts

  • Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases

  • Number of accounts with balances

  • Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts)

  • Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing (proportion of balance to original loan amount on certain types of installment loans)

Length of Credit History 15%

  • Time since accounts opened

  • Time since accounts opened, by specific type of account

  • Time since account activity

New Credit 10%

  • Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account

  • Number of recent credit inquiries

  • Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account

  • Time since credit inquiry(s)

  • Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems

Types of Credit Used 10%

Number of (presence, prevalence, and recent information on) various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, etc.)

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