About Credit Reports
By Michael Royce
Consumer advocate, former car salesman

Your "credit reports" - also known as your "credit profiles" - are detailed records of your personal credit history. Your credit reports are created and maintained by the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These agencies provide your credit history to lenders who subscribe to their services - such as car dealerships and banks - and request to see your credit reports for the purpose of evaluating your credit worthiness.

Car dealerships also use the info on your credit reports to learn more about you as a customer. What kinds of information can they uncover about you from your credit reports? With just a glance they may learn:

  • Where you live and work
  • How long you've lived in your current residence
  • How long you've worked at your current job
  • Your credit history for the past seven to ten years
  • How much credit you now have available
  • Where you've recently applied for credit
You should know exactly what's on your credit reports since errors are common. These errors can seriously harm your credit rating.

Fortunately it's easy to see your credit reports because:
Federal law gives you the right to view each of your three credit reports absolutely free once a year.
These are the same reports that the dealerships and banks see when you apply for a loan.

Here are three ways to get your free credit reports:
  • Phone: 1-877-322-8228
  • Mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service,
    P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

For more information: Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.

NOTE: There are other websites on the Internet that offer "free" credit reports. These sites, however, usually charge a fee of some sort or require you to enroll in a specific service. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized website for getting your federally-mandated free reports.

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