How to Get Your Credit Report

Call or write the credit reporting agency and request a copy of your report. I recommend that you also request your credit score if it is an available option, even if you have to pay more to get it. If you have to demonstrate in court that inaccuracies in your report damaged your creditworthiness, having evidence of your credit scores will be very helpful.

Don’t order your report online. As I explain in more detail in my Warning: Don’t Get Your Credit Report Online! page, you could be giving up important rights if you order your report online. You’ll find information about how to request your reports by phone or mail on my Credit Reporting Agency Addresses page.

You should get your report direct from the credit reporting agency that issues it and not a third party. Introducing a third party into the mix may make it harder for you to use the report in evidence if you ever have to go to court. You should also not bother with so-called “3 Bureau” reports. Most of the 3 Bureau reports I’ve seen are incomplete, and they involve additional entities in the process, making the evidentiary burden greater in court.

How Much Will Your Report Cost?

Unless you qualify for a free or reduced cost report, a credit report will cost $9.50 and a credit score will cost between $4-10. You may be able to get a report for less under a federal law that allows one free report a year, under certain state laws that allow free or discounted reports, or under special rules for people who have suffered adverse actions as a result of information in a credit report, who are unemployed, who are on welfare, or who have a report that is inaccurate because of fraud or identity theft.

Free Annual Report Under Federal Law

After September 1, 2005, everyone in the United States will be entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. You can get this free report by going to, by calling 877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. This free program is being phased in geographically. Residents of some states can already get their reports for free. To see when you are eligible for your free report, look up your state below:

Western states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming – can order free reports beginning December 1, 2004.

Midwestern states – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin – can order free reports beginning March 1, 2005.

Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – can order free reports beginning June 1, 2005.

Eastern states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia – the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories can order free reports beginning September 1, 2005.

Free or Reduced Price Reports Under State Law

If residents of your state are not yet eligble for free reports under federal law, or if you have already obtained your free report this year, you may be eligible for a free or reduced price report under state law. Check the chart below to see if you qualify:

State 1st Request 2nd Request 3rd Request Time Frame
California $8.00 $8.00 $8.00 Any Time
Colorado Free $8.00 $8.00 Calendar Year
Connecticut $5.00 $7.50 $7.50 12-month
Georgia Free Free $9.00 Calendar Year
Maine Free $5.00 $5.00 12-month
Maryland Free $5.00 $5.00 12-month
Massachusetts Free $8.00 $8.00 Calendar Year
Minnesota $3.00 $9.00 $9.00 12-month
Montana $8.50 $8.50 $8.50 Any Time
New Jersey Free $8.00 $8.00 12-month
Vermont Free $7.50 $7.50 12-month
Virgin Islands $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 Any Time
Other Rules That Allow Free Reports

If you applied for credit, insurance, or employment or you applied for a license or benefits from the government and adverse action was taken on your application because of information in your credit report, you should receive an adverse action notice. The adverse action notice will tell you who supplied the report and how to contact them for a free copy of the report. You have 60 days to request this free copy.

If you are unemployed and intend to seek employment or you are a public welfare recipient, you may request 1 free copy of your report each year.

If you believe your report contains inaccurate information because of fraud, including identity theft, you can request a free copy of your report. There is no limit on the number of reports you can request for this reason.