Each year, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report (not including your credit score) from each of the credit bureaus. It does not require a membership for a credit-monitoring service or any form of payment to receive this report. One must simply go to www.annualcreditreport.com and answer some identification questions to access the report. There will be offers for credit monitoring and a credit score, from each of the bureaus, but these purchases are not necessary to obtain the report.
If a company takes adverse action against you, involving credit, such as refusing to provide a loan that was applied for, you can also obtain a free report. The notice of credit denial, by law, should include the information you need to obtain that extra credit report. You can also obtain a free report if you are unemployed and looking for work, on welfare, or have been the victim of identity fraud.
Despite the fact that some companies charge for services to “erase” inaccuracies on your credit report, you can easily, and without cost, dispute any detrimental information that you believe is either a mistake or due to fraud. All of the credit bureaus has an address for mailing dispute letters and are required, by law, to investigate your concerns, within 30 days of the receipt of your letter.
If you do decide to use a third-party company for help with this, understand that by law they are not allowed to charge upfront for these services. The services must be complete before you pay a dime.
The Credit Repair Organizations Act protects consumers from predatory companies that make fraudulent claims about being able to “erase” bad credit. This law requires that genuine credit repair companies give the upfront information, to the consumer, that the consumer has a right to view his or her own credit report for free, annually, and the right to dispute inaccurate information, also for free.
The investigation into your dispute is also free, as long as you make your dispute yourself. After the investigation, if there is a change made to your credit report, the credit bureau must notify you in writing of the change. When inaccurate detrimental information is erased, it can make a substantial difference to your credit score. So checking your report, at least annually, is recommended.