This is the third in a series of columns that will look at real estate issues in Sweetwater County. What you need to know before you buy a house. What information you could use prior to renting an apartment. How you can maintain and enhance your existing housing.
In an earlier installment, we discussed the importance of credit reports. Now we’d like to detail how you can get a copy of these important documents.
There are many credit reporting agencies that create credit reports. For most residents of Sweetwater County as well as most Americans there are three major credit reporting firms in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
These entities are private, for-profit companies that make money by keeping track of your credit history and providing that information in the form of credit reports to other businesses and organizations. These other businesses likely include banks that you have asked to lend you money so that you can purchase a home in Green River or an apartment complex in Rock Springs where you’d like to rent an apartment.
It’s critical that you know that the information in these credit reports is accurate and complete. You don’t want to get denied a mortgage for that beautiful house you want to buy because of an incorrect credit report. You don’t want to be shown the door when applying to rent that cozy apartment near your work because your credit report is incomplete.
To avoid these pitfalls, you should get copies of your personal credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
And you can get all three for free. Really. Free as in no cost.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.”
You can visit annualcreditreport.com.
Click on “Request Yours Now!” on the top of the website. You’ll be asked to provide your name, your address, your social security number, and your date of birth.
You will then be asked to select from which of the three credit reporting bureaus you want your credit report. You will likely be asked security questions that typically only you would know the answers.
Please note: The FTC warns about websites that appear to be the site to get your free credit reports, but are actually imposter sites.
“Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — annualcreditreport.com ,” according to the FTC. “Other websites that claim to offer ‘free credit reports,’ ‘free credit scores,’ or ‘free credit monitoring’ are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.
In some cases, the ‘free’ product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly ‘free’ service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.”
The FTC notes that “Some ‘imposter’ sites use terms like ‘free report’ in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell ‘annualcreditreport.com’ in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these ‘imposter’ sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
(While there are some businesses – legitimate businesses – that will provide free credit reports outside of this specific website, please be careful.)
Beyond the specific website, you can also order your free credit report by telephone or through postal mail. You can call (877) 322-8228. Or you can complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form HERE and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
You’ll be able to view your free credit report almost immediately if you order it through the specific website. If you order your free credit report by telephone or through postal mail, the FTC reports that your request will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days of either your telephone call or when your letter is received in Atlanta.
You may want to consider requesting your free credit reports throughout the year rather than all at once. For example, you may choose to request your free credit report from Equifax in March, TransUnion in July, and Experian in November. (Or any other combination of credit reporting firms and months.)
“Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports,” according to the FTC.
In the next news column, we’ll detail how you can correct errors, have information removed, and have information added to your credit reports. In addition, other future news columns will look at a variety of aspects of credit – how to create a credit history if you don’t have one, how you can enhance your current credit situation, and what steps you’ll need to take if you’ve lost or had a credit card stolen as well as if you’re a victim of identity theft.
All of these elements are critical if you’re going to buy or rent a home in Sweetwater County.
Do you have ideas for future Real Estate columns?
Your questions may be used in a future news column.
Contact Richard McDonough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2020 Richard McDonough