The three nationwide credit reporting agencies (also called credit bureaus), Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, must provide you with one free credit report every 12 months upon your request. But in certain situations, you can get another free credit report within the same 12-month period.
(Learn more about credit reports and getting your free yearly credit report.)
You are entitled to another free credit report if any one of the following is true:
One of the following happened because of information in your credit report:
A creditor who takes any of these actions must tell you the name and address of the credit reporting agency reporting the information that led to the denial of credit or other adverse action. You must request your report from that particular credit reporting agency within 60 days from the denial of credit or adverse action. You can use Nolo’s eForm Request for Explanation of Unfavorable Credit Offer or Action to do this. You can also find this form in Nolo’s Credit Repair, by Robin Leonard.
A credit reporting agency updated your report after you disputed an item. If you dispute an item after getting your free annual report, and the CRA updates your report as a result of that dispute, you can get another free report within the one-year period. This provision is not contained in the law, but is the result of a new policy set forth by the three nationwide credit reporting agencies.
You are unemployed and planning to apply for a job within 60 days following your request for your credit report. You must enclose a statement swearing that this is true. It might also help to include a copy of a recent unemployment check, layoff notice, or similar document verifying your unemployment. You are entitled to one free report from each agency in any 12-month period.
You receive public assistance. Enclose a statement swearing that this is true and a copy of your most recent public assistance check as verification. You are entitled to one free report from each agency in any 12-month period.
You reasonably believe your credit file contains errors due to someone’s fraud, such as using your credit cards, Social Security number, name, or something similar. Here, too, you will need to enclose a statement swearing that this is true. You are entitled to one free report in any 12-month period.
You are a victim of identity theft or fraud or think that you may be. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to request free credit reports in connection with fraud alerts. If you suspect in good faith that you are, or may be, a victim of identity theft or another fraud, you can instruct the three nationwide agencies to add a “fraud alert” to your file. You can request a free copy of your report from each agency once it places the fraud alert in your file. (To learn more about what to do if your identity is stolen, see our Identify Theft topic area.)
This is an excerpt from Credit Repair, by Robin Leonard (Nolo).