As a consumer, this helps to ensure fair credit reporting while also protecting you against identity theft.
Reviewing your free credit report also lets you know where you stand credit-wise and allows you to check for any potential problems you might not be aware of. Mistakes happen, and the sooner you can catch them, the better off your credit score will be.
Where to Go for Your Free Annual Credit Report
If you’re looking for your free credit report from each of the credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — you can get free copies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
The three credit bureaus operate the website, which is authorized by federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows you to access each of your credit reports every 12 months for free. So if you order a copy of your personal credit report on September 30, you can’t get another one until October 1 of the following year.
After that, you can pay to receive more frequent copies, which usually cost around $15 each, or you can typically order all three together for a discounted price. You might find this helpful if you’ve requested changes to your credit reports or filed a dispute and want to confirm that the information has been updated.
Unfortunately, the credit bureaus don’t offer free credit scores. However, there are several credit card companies that do.
Benefits of Paying for Your Credit Report
It may be wise to pay for your credit report if you need a faster dispute process. Typically, credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate a dispute. But if you get your free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, they have 45 days to respond.
How to Contact the Credit Bureaus
Sometimes you need to contact the individual credit bureaus concerning specific issues. For example, it may involve various kinds of misreported information or negative items you want to clear up.
Additionally, you can contact each credit bureau to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. Fraud alerts stop anyone from accessing your credit reports for a new inquiry. They can cause fraudulent applications to be denied instantaneously. This service is now free from the credit bureaus.
No matter your concern, it can be hard to get a real person on the phone. But if you’re persistent, you can always find a way. If the main phone numbers you find online won’t allow you to connect with someone, look up the credit reporting agency’s local corporate headquarters and call them directly. Ask to speak with a customer service agent to get someone on the line quickly.
With that said, we find that the best way to contact credit reporting agencies is usually by mail.
Credit Bureau Addresses
The following information for contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion is accurate as of the publishing of this article. However, they may update this information as these mailing addresses are known to change frequently.
When it comes to mailing addresses, corporate headquarters aren’t the right addresses to write to concerning questions about individual credit accounts. Before sending the credit bureaus a letter, you may want to verify the information to make sure you’re addressing your letter to the correct department.
You can always refer to each credit bureau’s website to get up-to-date contact information or find online forms. It’s helpful to note that the credit bureaus prefer that you contact them by phone first.
When you speak with an agent, they’ll give you the best address to use for your particular issue. You may also wish to read each credit bureau’s website to find specific numbers other than the general numbers provided below. Either way, this is a great starting point to get connected to the right place.
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Phone numbers: (888) 298-0045 (for customer care) or (800) 349-9960 (for security freezes)
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Phone number: (888) 397-3742 (for disputes)
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
Phone number: (800) 916-8800
Other Credit Reporting Agencies
While Innovis is not considered one of the three national credit bureaus, consumers have increasingly found it important to keep tabs on their Innovis credit report, especially given their relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This credit bureau primarily sells lists to creditors (including mortgage lenders) of creditworthy and non-creditworthy individuals.
You can access free credit reports and request changes just as you would with any of the three major credit bureaus. However, you’ll have to call the national opt-out number (1-888-567-8688) to have your name and number removed from their lists.
For free credit reports, contact:
Attn: Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1640
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-1640
Phone number: (800) 540-2505
For Innovis corporate headquarters, contact:
250 E. Town St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
PRBC Inc. (Payment Reporting Builds Credit)
A fifth credit reporting agency is PRBC Inc., which performs the same functions as the other consumer reporting agencies. However, it also allows consumers to build a positive credit history using alternative data, such as utility bills and insurance payments.
PRBC Inc. uses information not always reported to the other credit bureaus, allowing consumers to rebuild a positive credit history. The company is owned by MicroBilt Corporation.
1640 Airport Rd, Suite 115
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Phone number: (800) 884-4747
Contacting the Credit Bureaus
When contacting the credit bureaus by phone, you should have some things ready. First, you will need to give them your full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and social security number.
Additionally, they will probably ask you some security questions about your credit history to verify that it’s you.
When contacting the credit bureaus by mail, you will need to include the same personal information as stated above, plus a copy of a government-issued identification card, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID card. You will also need to include a copy of a utility bill, bank statement, or insurance statement.