Questions about credit reports...

Okay, I’ve gone over this in GQ a couple of years ago, but never really got many responses, so here goes:

I’ve had major difficulties getting my free credit reports from annualcreditreport dot com lately. Usually it ends with either a technical error or telling me that it’s unable to fulfill my request.

I think one major reason for these failures is that, for reasons I won’t explain here, my current mailing address is different from the address my credit card bills go to (and this difference will remain for the foreseeable future). Also, my last credit report (which I got in 2013 under weird technical circumstances that I don’t remember anymore; I’m not sure I “should’ve” been able to get it, but there it is), my birthday on their files seems to be incorrect. I have no idea which, if any, of these facts has made me unable to get my credit report online.

Two major questions:

  1. Which address should be on my credit report: my regular mailing address or the one the credit card bills go to? Will there be any confusion by the companies if the difference remains?

  2. The process for changing any info involves me sending documents through the mail — documents which, for obvious reasons, would make it easy for someone to steal my identity. What’s the safest way to do this?

I’ll probably have more questions (like how the heck to change personal info through Experian — their website gives me no help that I can find), but that can wait for later.

Thanks in advance.

Registered mail.

You will need to give ssn and whatever documentation you have showing their error.

My Experian report from 2011 (I don’t tidy up much) shows my name and a block of data showing each address they know for me.

The address needs to match whatever address you intend o use when applying for credit, leasing housing, open a bank account - where anyone will pull your report.

I’d go with current physical residence unless there was a very good reason for not doing so.

Ever cash a check and show ID? Whats the first question? “Is this your current address?”.
It just makes things so much tidier.

Also, see
to get credit info.

Its down for maintenance at the moment.

Um, anyone else…? I’d like to get more than one opinion.

I had the “technical issues” problem with annualcreditreport dot com the last time I tried as well. I was able to use to view my credit reports.

The only address the companies that report to the credit bureaus know is the one you gave to that company so that will be the address they send to the credit bureaus so I would use that one.

So that means keep it as the address the bills go to…?

That would be my guess.

Sometimes it will prompt you for “look at this list of addresses, which one have you ever been associated with?” as part of the “prove it’s you” step at the beginning. I’ve had it pull up things from the 1980s. So you might see your physical address.

Doctor Jackson: beware freecreditreport dot com, as it isn’t truly free. Yeah, you can get the report but I gather you have to sign up for a monitoring service, which will charge you, unless you remember to cancel it soon enough.

Credit Karma is good though their score isn’t a true FICO score - AND, they recently changed how they calculate the score they do show you, so mine dropped precipitously recently. OK, part of that was an account that was truly delinquent - a small credit card I got joint with my son when he went to college, which he had not bothered to pay in 2 months :smack:. Of course, I have CK to thank for my even KNOWING about that screwup, as they emailed to say “ZOMG ONE OF YOUR ACCOUNTS IS NOW DELINQUENT”.

Yeah, I saw that step for one of the sites, and it still didn’t get me my report.

Basically, I’m trying to figure out how to be able to get to my credit report, and why it’s not working to go online anymore when it used to at least once before I tried last year. I’d update my info, if I knew what info was wrong (if any) and what to do about it.

ETA: I don’t THINK it’s due to some kind of fraud since the one I got under weird circumstances last year (through what may or may not have been a technical glitch) looked clean.

I think he meant That’s the one set up in accordance to the federal law. It won’t give you a credit score though.

Yes. Let me put it to you this way: I work with the loan collections department at a university. Part of my job was to submit the file to the credit bureau. Now the only address we would have for you in our system would be the one you gave us to send correspondence and statements to. Therefore, that would be the address that gets reported to the credit bureau. We don’t go searching for another address unless a piece of mail is returned as ‘undeliverable’ (or whatever).

It’s a good thing my memory has always sucked, or I might think I was getting old. I meant Credit Karma. Apparently those other guys had effective ads, because that’s what popped into mind first when typing my response.

Somebody please fight my ignorance.

Years ago, a friend told me that anybody could get one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and whatever the other one is) simply by calling each of their 800 numbers and speaking to one of their agents. Something to do with getting your authorization on the recorded phone call.

Straight from the horse’s mouth. Would this not be the most accurate way to find out your credit score?

Uncle Brother Walker, you can indeed get one free credit report per agency per year. The aforementioned is the easiest way, but I’d not be surprised if you could also request reports by phone.

However, a credit report does not show your FICO score. That is what most lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage, car loan, etc. As far as I know, all three agencies charge a fee to show you that.

Some banks offer a free FICO score viewing as a benefit for their customers. Citibank recently started offering it to all credit card holders. You might want to check with your bank or credit card company.

Note that the annual reports are one from each rating company.

Since they all use the same data and are pretty much equivalent:

Get one from Company A now.
In 4 months, get the report from Company B
In 8 months, hit Company C

In 12 months, you’re eligible for another round.

In my experience, they aren’t all pretty much equivalent. For some of them, I’ve been able to get some deleterious stuff removed, and for the others, I haven’t. So my credit is better for one or two of them than it is the others, by 20 or 30 points.

We only reported to Equifax. I don’t know who our current loan servicer reports to.

None of the three major credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Equifax or Experian) report your FICO score. Each agency calculates their own credit score, but FICO is a trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation, and it will be different from all three credit reporting agency credit scores.

From your cite:

Yet I have found significant differences. It’s either how they obtain the data, or how they interpret it, but they don’t all do it the same way.

I urge anyone planning on using this site or service to carefully read the privacy section. You may be surprised what you are giving them by making the request. For one, cookies must be accepted by your computer.

Believe me, no one is going to give you something free, except if required by law, unless they get something in return. And the law doesn’t require them to give you anything (it requires reporting agencies to provide reports, but not sites that offer multiple ones). They are making money off of your data, whether individualized or amalgamated.

Call me paranoid, but how do we know that the privacy statement is followed? Are you going to trust some unknown web site with this critical and vital information?