Should consumers order their free credit reports online?
Consumers are entitled to one free credit report a year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to request their free credit reports once every 12 months online, by mail or telephone from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Consumers are also entitled to free credit reports for other reasons. Identity theft victims are entitled to free credit reports. Consumers who have been denied for credit are entitled to free credit reports. Consumers who are unemployed and seeking employment have the right to a free credit report. For more information, click Free Credit Reports to read about your right to a free credit report under federal law.
Many consumers ask us, “Should I order my free credit reports online?” The short answer is no. Ordering a free credit report online may sound quick and easy, but we frequently receive complaints from consumers that they are unable to get their free credit reports online. Instead, snail mail most often is the most effective way to order free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
Here are 5 of the common complaints we hear from our clients who were not able to get their free credit reports online from AnnualCreditReport.com.
1. Unable to verify identity
The credit bureaus have their own “verification” questions supposedly for security purposes. However, identity theft victims and consumers with mixed credit files are unable to provide “correct” answers to verify their identities. Why? Because when the credit agencies have inaccurate information in their credit files due to fraud or are mixed with others who have a similar the correct information does not match what is in the consumer’s file. The end result is the consumers do not receive their credit reports.
2. Unable to print credit reports or too many pages to print
Consumers may have difficulty printing credit reports online. Or, the online credit reports may be too long. It may be difficult to print the reports because of technical errors with the credit reporting agency website or the consumer’s computer or printer. Also, online credit reports are much longer than the credit reports received by mail. Consumers may be reluctant to print a 100 page credit report, especially when the report may be 30 pages or less by mail. The end result is the consumers do not receive their credit reports.
3. Unable to download credit reports
Consumers may have difficulty downloading copies of credit reports from each credit reporting agency. This may be caused by an error with the credit reporting agencies’ website or it may be an issue with the consumers’ computer. Either way, the end result is the consumer do not receive their credit reports.
4. Unable to be redirected to other credit reporting agencies
After a consumer’s identity is validated by the AnnualCreditReport.com web site, the consumer is re-directed to one of the three credit reporting agencies. The credit reporting agency asks the consumer its own verification questions (as described above), then after the consumer obtains a report is re-directed back to the Central Source to obtain the next report. Often consumers are unable to be re-directed to the next credit reporting agency and are unable to get their credit reports from the other two credit reporting agencies. The end result is the consumer does not receive the credit reports.
5. Error message – Consumer already received free credit report
Consumers may incorrectly receive an error message stating that the consumer already received their free credit report. The error may be caused for a number of reasons incorrectly caused by the credit reporting agencies. The end result is the consumer does not receive the credit reports.
So what should you do if you cannot get your credit reports online? You have choices:
1. Order your free credit reports by mail.
We recommend ordering your free credit reports by mail from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. To order the free credit reports, complete this Free Annual Disclosure Request Form. Once completed, the form should be mailed to the address on the form, which is the central source for free credit report requests by mail.
Click Free Annual Disclosure Request Form to order your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The Free Annual Disclosure Request Form should be completed and mailed to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281.
2. Order your free credit reports by telephone.
Free credit reports mail be ordered by telephone from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The telephone number to call is 1-877-322-8228. Once you call the number, you will be prompted to enter your identifying information, including your date of birth and Social Security number. You may also select which credit reports you want to be sent to you. The credit reports should be mailed to you within 15 days of your phone call.
3. File a complaint.
Consumers may file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with Central Source, or both. You can file a complaint with the CFPB HERE. You can file a complaint with Central Source HERE.
4. Contact a Fair Credit Reporting Act lawyer.
A lawyer who has experience representing clients under the Fair Credit Reporting Act can evaluate your potential claims and counsel you on your options under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires defendants to pay attorneys fees if you win your case.
The Adkins Firm represents identity theft victims and consumers with credit report or background report errors. We have represented hundreds of consumers with individual claims and millions of consumers in class actions.
We maintain offices in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. We have represented consumers in federal court in many other states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
If you have tried to get your free credit reports, and the credit reporting agencies did not send you your free credit reports, then contact The Adkins Firm for a free case review 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091 or online by e-mailing us at Intake@ItsYourCreditReport.com.
Remember, it’s your credit report!