Getting a Free Credit Report when Application is Declined

Discussing her financial future
Dear Experian,

I was denied credit based on a credit report from Experian. Can I order a free credit report online from Experian if I have already used my free annual credit report within the last 12 months?


Dear SJA,

Yes, you can still get a free credit report when your application is declined, but you can only get a free report from the credit reporting company that provided the report upon which the decision was based. In your case, that would be Experian.

The lender will provide instructions to request the report with the adverse action notice it sends to you. The instructions will probably include an Internet address to request your report.

If not, and you prefer to get your report online, you can go to Experian's Report Access and use the form you find there. You will need to complete the adverse action information that is included in the request form about the company that declined your application.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows you to get a free credit report if adverse action was taken as a result of information in the credit report. Examples of adverse action include being declined or having your interest rate increased.

You might also qualify for additional credit reports provided for by the FCRA. It allows you to get a free credit report if you are unemployed and seeking employment, receive welfare assistance or believe you may be a victim of fraud. If any of these circumstances apply, you should request your reports directly from each of the national credit reporting companies.

You mention the free report allowed by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). That law allows everyone to get a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the national credit reporting companies, but only from the mandated centralized source.

Learn more about requesting those reports.

Additionally, some states also allow their residents to get one or more free credit reports each year directly from each credit reporting company.

None of these preempt any of the others. If you are declined, you can get a free report under the FCRA, and you still can get a free report under the FACT Act. You can get additional free reports under some states laws, if you live in a state that provides for one or more free reports annually.

If you don't qualify for a free report under any of the reasons within federal or state law, a credit report can be ordered.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. 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 may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.