A credit report is created by a credit bureau. A credit bureau is a company that collects your payment history from creditors, lenders, utilities, debt collection agencies, and courts. There are four major credit bureaus in the United States. They are Innovis, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You have a separate credit report from each bureau. Each bureau looks at the different type of debt you have, and your consistency in paying your debts on time. That information is used to create your FICO score. When you apply for a loan, the lender will use this score to help determine if you can afford the loan. The lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate will be.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was designed to help ensure that credit bureaus furnish correct and complete information to businesses for use when evaluating your application.

Your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

  • You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all of the information in your file at the time of your request.
  • You have the right to know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the last year for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes.
  • Any company that denies your application must supply the name and address of the credit bureau they contacted, provided the denial was based on information given by the credit bureau.
  • You have the right to a free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by the credit bureau. Your request must be made within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.
  • If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your report, you should file a dispute with the credit bureau and with the company that furnished the information to the bureau. Both the credit bureau and the furnisher of information are legally obligated to investigate your dispute.
  • You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.

Important information from the Federal Trade Commission

annualcreditreport.com is the ONLY authorized online source for you to get an annual  free credit report under federal law. You can get a free report from each of the three national credit reporting companies every 12 months. Some other sites claim to offer "free" credit reports, but may charge you for another product if you accept a "free" report.