The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) made it possible for you to get a free copy of your credit report. Through FACTA you can order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – each year. You should take advantage of this privilege by ordering your credit report and using it to monitor your credit history.
Ordering Your Free Credit Report
There are specific ways to access your credit reports under FACTA
Online, by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
By phone, by calling 877-322-8228.
By mail, by printing a request form (Adobe viewer needed) and mailing it to the address listed on the form.
Free credit report offers from other sources are not part of FACTA and may require you to sign up for a paid subscription service to receive the free credit report. If you use a search engine for the phrase “free credit report” or something similar, you can easily land on a scam site. To be absolutely certain you are going to the correct website, you can use the link from the FTC’s free credit report information site.
You should not contact the credit bureaus individually to get your free credit report. Your credit score is not part of this offer and must be purchased separately.
Other Ways To Get Free Credit Reports
There are other situations in which you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. These instances are outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and include:
You had an application denied because of information on your credit report. This includes credit, insurance, and employment applications. You have 60 days from the date you learn of the denial to ask for a copy of your credit report. The company will send you a notice that includes contact information for the credit bureau who provided the report used in making the decision.
You are unemployed and plan to begin looking for a job within 60 days.
You are on welfare
You are a victim of identity theft and have inaccurate information on your credit report
The lingo used to talk about credit scores can be confusing. On any given personal finance website or in any given book, you might see the term credit score. Or you might see FICO score. Still, there’s another credit score term that’s been thrown around – FAKO score. What are all these different scores and what do they mean? Which one is the “right” one?
If you find questionable information on your report you should begin disputing credit report errors immediately. Contrary to what many individuals believe you can repair bad credit.
FICO, FAKO, Credit – What Are All These Credit Scores?
Let’s start at the beginning. Think of “credit score” as a generic term that used to refer to the numeric value given to your credit history. Your credit score is calculated using information contained in your credit report.
You may have also heard about the Vantage Score, a newer score developed by the three major credit bureaus, that also considers non-traditional forms of debt like apartment leases and utility payments.
FICO is a Brand
The FICO score is a branded credit score, developed and administered by a company called Fair Isaac. For the analogical-minded – credit score is to FICO as bandage is to Band-Aid.
What about FAKO?
FAKO score is used to refer to any credit score that’s not a FICO score. If you purchased your credit score from anywhere but myfico.com, then it’s a FAKO score.
What’s the Difference?
As far as we know, all the credit scores are generally calculated the same. Since we can’t see each company’s exact formula, it’s hard to pinpoint the specific differences.
Creditors and lenders use the credit score from the company they have a business relationship with. It could be a credit bureau’s credit score, the FICO score, or the lender’s own credit score. The only way to find out is to have your lender tell you (some won’t).
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