Most people consider credit reports as an unnecessary expense that they can’t afford, but your credit can make or break your standard of living, so it's vital to order the reports at least once per year. This is so you can determine whether or not there are incorrect items that could negatively affect your credit score.
Some experts even believe that they should be ordered semi-annually rather than yearly. This is to help prevent identity theft for those who aim to harm by using your personal information. It can take years to straighten out a credit history file after an identity theft occurrence.
If you are purchasing just a singular credit report without a score, you will pay anywhere from ten to twelve dollars depending on the agency that you are ordering the report from. They are all individual entities that are privately owned, so their prices vary a small amount between the three major credit bureaus.
If you choose to add a credit score, which is advisable, then you can expect to pay anywhere from five to eight dollars more on your total cost. This is a bargain, because your score along determines whether or not you will be approved for credit that you have applied or will be applying for.
The good news is that most states allow their residents one free report from each credit reporting agency per year. All three of the reports can be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com. This site will require you to enter your personal information. It will then redirect you to each credit reporting agency's page within the site. There is a wealth of information on the site that pertains to credit files, and how the credit industry works.
Each of the agencies will ask you a series of security questions. If you are able to answer the questions correctly, then they will allow you to obtain your credit report immediately by downloading it. If you cannot answer the questions, then they will require that you send identification information to them through the mail.
Once they verify your information, they will then mail a copy of your credit report directly to you. It could take up to six weeks to receive the report if they are sending it through the mail, due to the hefty process times that are in place to verify information.
The ability to obtain credit reports once per year for free has only come about in the last decade or so. Most people do not need more than the one per year, but if they do, they will be required to pay for any additional reports, which generally costs $10-30 per month, depending on the type of service you purchase.
If the reports are ordered online, they will usually be stored in the credit reporting agency's website, so that they can be reviewed for a certain period of time before being deleted. This time span ranges from thirty to sixty days depending on the agency.
The scores do not come included with the reports for free, but you will have the option to purchase them from the credit report pages that you are directed to.