There are three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax that keep credit reports that show personal credit history. Consumers are entitled to one free copy a year from each according to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A credit report request letter can be sent to each bureau if the consumer needs to rent an apartment, get a mortgage, lease a car or do anything else that requires a credit report check to make sure their report is accurate.
Even if the consumer is not applying for credit, or doesn’t suspect inaccurate debt information or identity fraud, it is important to know what information is collected and put on the report. Whether consumers only check their report once a year or more often, it is easy to get a copy. If a credit report request letter is sent to each bureau, the consumer should check the bureau’s websites to see if there are any procedures to follow.
If the consumer has already received their annual free credit report, there are several reasons why they may request another report for free. These include:
• Credit, insurance or employment application denied because of information on their credit report
• Looking for a job within 60 days
• Receiving government welfare assistance
• A victim of identity fraud
• Some states allow consumers to get more than one free report per year
There are several websites that promise to help consumers get their credit reports for free, but many of these are scams and charge an annual fee that is difficult to stop. Credit bureaus have legitimate websites, but writing a letter is considered the best way to get a copy of a credit report. This is because all the information is clearly available to the bureau and the consumer has a copy of the request. Identity theft is very common, so the consumer must give specific information to prove they are the legitimate person to receive the copy.
If the proper information is not included in the letter, the bureau could ignore it or send it back to the consumer. The information that needs to be included in the letter is:
• Consumer’s name
• Social security number
• Current and previous addresses
• Date of birth
• Telephone number
• Email address
If an individual requests a copy of his or her own credit report, or if an established creditor makes the request, it should not have any effect on the consumer’s credit score. It is recommended that consumers get a copy of their credit report at least once a year. However, reports can change frequently as creditors give new information.
The letter should have a polite and friendly tone. It will not help to criticize or complain about the bureau. If the request is being made because credit was denied to the consumer, a free copy of their credit report must be requested within 60 days of the denial. If there is a debt dispute, an appeal must be initiated within 30 days. If the consumer believes he or she is the victim of credit fraud, they can ask the bureau to freeze their account, so no other debt can be added to it until the situation is cleared.
The current mailing addresses for consumer correspondence of the three main credit bureaus can be found on their websites. Here is a sample credit report request letter. The letter should be sent by certified mail, so the consumer has proof of the time and date the letter was sent and received. The bureau must respond within 45 days of the date they receive the letter. If they don’t, the consumer should call them directly. This is especially important if the request is being made within a certain time limit. Any enclosures should be copies only, and no original documents should be sent.
Sample Credit Report Request Letter
Name of Consumer
Address of Consumer
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Credit Bureau
Address of Credit Bureau
City, State, Zip Code
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to request a copy of my credit report. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), I have the right to a free copy of my credit report every year. I would like to check my report because I believe it contains inaccurate information that has hampered my ability to buy a new car. I was denied credit from NAME OF CAR DEALERSHIP on DATE because of my low credit rating. As far as I know, my credit rating should be high.
To verify my identity I include my social security number, 123-45-6789, and a copy of my current driver’s license. My current address is as above, and my previous address is ADDRESS. I can be reached at 555-123-4567 or at Name@email.com. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Signature of Consumer
Name of Consumer Printed
List of enclosures
By Andre Bradley