Have you applied for a car loan?  Asked to have cable TV or internet installed?  Tried to get a mortgage on a house or condo unit?  Tried to rent an apartment?  Applied for a new credit card?  In each case described above, someone checked your credit report.

What is a credit report?  A credit report is a document which contains information about your credit such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts.  Lenders use these reports to make lending decisions.  The credit report tells how much credit you have, how much credit you have available, and how much you are using.  It tells if a debt collector or bill collector is collecting on money you owe.

Credit reporting companies compile these reports and make them available.  The three major credit reporting companies are EQUIFAX, experian, and TransUnion.   It is important that you request copies of these reports once a year.  You can request them all at once and compare the information.  You may prefer to spread your requests over the year so you can monitor your credit report more frequently.  Check them to be sure they are correct.  If you see an error, send a letter to dispute it.

You can get a free copy of your credit report by completing the request form at or call (877)322-8228.  Be careful that you do not use another site.  Other sites may pretend to offer you a free credit report, but they may require that you purchase another item or service.

Mail the completed form to the following address:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA  30348-5281

Your credit score will not be included in your free credit report.  If you need your credit score, you can purchase it directly from EQUIFAX, experian, and TransUnion.

For further information about credit scores, go to

By Karen Centowski