HOW TO GET YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORT
You can request your free consumer credit report in three ways:
Since you are entitled to one free report every 12 months from each of the big credit reporting companies, you can get them all at once and compare for any errors. Or you can obtain them separately, such as one every four months, to monitor potential problems as soon as they develop.
You also can obtain your credit score, which translates your risk into a number, though you might have to pay a small fee for it.
As freebies go, this isn’t something to phone home about. But if waiving the fee of $9 or so gets you to start monitoring your credit report, it’s a step in the right direction.
Thanks to federal legislation, by this fall every consumer can request a free credit profile from each of the three major consumer credit agencies once a year. These reports can affect your application for credit, and they can also reveal identity theft that hasn’t yet come to your attention. They show which parties have sought information on your credit and what information gets reported to them – notably how well you pay off your credit accounts.
“When you’re dealing with truckers, a high percentage of them don’t have good credit,” says Perry Wiseman of Truckers Accounting Service in Omaha, Neb. “Typically, I don’t hear about it till after they’ve been denied, or they get financing and it’s at a high rate.”
What the consumer reports don’t track is your business credit history. That information comes from a commercial credit report. For example, many of the truck makers’ finance arms use PayNet for that service. The commercial report, the consumer report and the structure of the transaction are the three keys to evaluating any prospective loan.
It’s not unusual for a borrower to have a poor consumer profile – perhaps caused by a messy divorce or a personal bankruptcy – but to have made every truck payment on time. In such cases, a strong commercial report can outweigh the other problems and make that borrower a good commercial credit risk.
PayNet does not sell credit reports to borrowers, but will provide a free copy as part of dispute resolution, says President Bill Phelan.
To challenge something in a report, contact the company that issued it:
Equifax – (800) 685-1111
Experian – (888) 397-3742
TransUnion – (800) 916-8800
PayNet – (866) 825-3400