Do a husband and wife share a single annual credit report, or do they each have their own reports that are separate from and specific to each other? In other words, are they each entitled to three free credit reports every year under their own name?
Yes, you and your spouse are each entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three national credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Although you and your spouse may have joint accounts, married couples do not have joint credit reports. Requesting an annual free credit report for yourself has no bearing on the free credit report your spouse receives, and vice versa.
Your Credit Reports May Have Different Information
Once you receive your reports, look them both over carefully. Many people think that because some or even all of their credit accounts are joint with their spouse, their credit reports will be identical, but that isn't always the case.
In addition to making sure your credit history is reflected accurately, checking your credit report regularly can help alert you to any potential fraud activity, so you should take the time to review each one.
If you see anything that you believe is incorrect on your Experian credit report, you should contact Experian to dispute the information.
Keep in mind that because your credit reports are completely separate, disputing information on your credit report will not cause the information to be disputed on your spouse's — so remember to notify of Experian of any inaccurate information on both your credit report and on theirs.
Your Credit Reports are Separate, but Your Joint Accounts Affect Both of You
Although your credit reports are separate, any account where you are a joint account holder or a cosigner with your spouse will affect both of you. Joint accounts will appear on both your credit reports, even if you aren't the primary person on the account. As a joint account holder, you share full responsibility for the debt, even if you didn't make the charges. This applies to everyone, not just married couples.
For example, if you cosigned for a credit card or a loan for a friend or family member and a payment is missed, that late payment will appear on your credit report as well, even if the other signer is the one who normally pays the bill.
Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist