Do you have a question about consumer credit? You may find an immediate answer by using the search engine. If you can't find what you're looking for, please fill out the form, being as specific as possible.
Please note: The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team will include it in a future column.
The information contained in this column if for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult your own attorney or seek specific advice from a legal professional regarding your particular situation.
Please understand that Experian policies change over time. Column responses reflect Experian policy at the time of writing. While maintained for your information, archived responses may not reflect current Experian policy.
Topics addressed on February 22, 2006:
Where to request your FACT Act report and why to do it online
Dear Experian,How do I get my annual free credit report? And, if possible, can I just do it over the phone, and is it safer? Also, please tell me the exact web address where I can get this free annual report. Does it include a free score as well?
Dear GEN,The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) required that the three national credit reporting agencies establish a “centralized source” through which you must request the free annual credit report. You cannot request the report directly through the Web sites of the national credit reporting agencies. To request the report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. It provides instructions for requesting the report through the Internet and by telephone. It is much faster and just as safe to request your credit report through the Internet. Your Internet request is made through a secure, computer-to-computer connection, and your report is delivered instantly. When you request your report by telephone, the request is also processed through a secure system. However, your report must be delivered by mail, which can take days to arrive. Mail delivery can introduce some additional risk, simply as a result of human intervention in the process. However, it is minimal because Experian omits your correct Social Security number and truncates account numbers. As a result, there is no information in the report that can be used for account takeover or identity theft. The same is true of reports delivered through the Internet. A credit score is not part of your credit report. Credit scoring is a separate process of analyzing the information in your credit report. A little known fact is that lenders pay credit reporting companies an additional fee for the service of applying one or more credit scores of their choice. In many instances, the credit reporting companies do not apply credit scores. Instead, the business applies credit scores after receiving your report, or has a third party vendor that applies credit scores and provides other services for the business. Any score you receive as a consumer is an educational score that will help you understand how creditors would view your credit risk, regardless of the scoring model they use. A credit score and score report from Experian is $5. For that fee, you get an Experian PLUS Score and a comprehensive report that describes what information in your credit history most affected that score, both positively and negatively. You can use that information to help improve the score over time. Doing so will result in improving every other credit score as well because you are improving your overall credit worthiness by changing your credit management behavior. After receiving your Experian PLUS score and report, it can be interesting to visit www.nationalscoreindex.com. At the site you can find out how your score compares to the national population and to others in your state or metropolitan area. Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team