How Often Can You Get a Free Credit Report?

Credit Report

Your credit report is one of many factors lenders review when you apply for a small business loan. Before you submit your application, you’ll want to ensure there aren’t any surprises or inaccuracies on your credit report.

How often can you get a free credit report? Find the answer to that question and more below!

Ordering your free credit report

You can get a free credit report every 12 months from each major credit bureaus. This includes Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

The easiest way to get a copy of your report is through www.annualcreditreport.com. You’ll need to fill out a form with your basic information, then select which reports you’d like from the bureaus. To finalize the request, you’ll need to answer some additional security questions that might require some information from personal and financial records. Once you have your reports, it’s time to review them for any errors or negative remarks!

Your free annual credit report doesn’t include your credit score, but you can purchase your FICO score when you request your free annual credit report.

You can also request your credit report and score at no charge through sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, LendingTree, and Bankrate. Remember that the credit score you’ll get through these websites may not be the same one a lender will use when reviewing your application. Lenders are more likely to use your FICO score.

When should you request your credit report?

It’s essential to check your credit report every 12 months. Ordering your free credit report won’t impact your credit score, but leaving inaccuracies on your report can lower your credit score. Checking your credit report each year will inform you of any inaccuracies so you can proactively take action.

There are special circumstances that may allow you to get additional credit reports for free. Here are a few situations that would qualify:

  • You’ve had an adverse action taken against you. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report if your application is declined for credit, insurance, or employment based on your report. You must request your report from one (or all) of the credit bureaus within 60 days of receiving notice of the adverse action.
  • You’re unemployed. If you’re searching for a job within 60 days of becoming unemployed, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report. Because many employers today may check your credit report, it’s a good idea to review it yourself first in case of questions.
  • You’re receiving welfare benefits.
  • You’re a victim of fraud or identity theft. Fraud and identity theft can cause inaccuracies on your credit report, so you can order one additional free copy in this situation. Identity theft can quickly lower your credit score and cause headaches with unknown creditors. If you learn that you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact each major credit bureau right away. You’ll want to review your credit report and report the inaccuracies to the bureaus.

What’s on your credit report?

Now that you have your credit report, you’ll need to know what’s included and what you should review. Your credit report is a summary of all your credit-related activity. Every time you have a new credit inquiry, open or close an account, or miss a payment that’s reported to a bureau, it will show up on your credit report.

Personal information

Your name and any other names you’ve used will appear on your credit report, as well as your date of birth, current and previous addresses, contact information, and social security number. This is the first section you’ll want to review to confirm it’s accurate. If you spot any errors, you should open a dispute with the credit bureau that issued the report.

Credit accounts

This section will list out all your credit accounts, whether they’re open or closed, and your payment history. The accounts listed here are usually from the past seven to ten years and include credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, student loans, and more.

Review this section to ensure there aren’t any credit accounts opened in your name that you don’t know about and that the information about each account is accurate. You can open a dispute if you find an error.

Public records

If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, had a lien or judgment filed against you, or have gone into foreclosure, that information used to appear in this section of your report.

The credit bureaus recently adopted new policies requiring stricter criteria for a public record to be included in your credit report. To be included, the record must:

  • At least include your name, address, and your Social Security Number of birth date
  • Be updated or verified at least once every three months

While bankruptcies already met these criteria, many liens and judgments didn’t and were removed from credit reports. Even though tax liens no longer appear on credit reports, they will appear in a Lexis Nexis search. Nearly all lenders perform these searches on loan applicants, so a lien can still impact their decision.

As with other sections of your credit report, you can dispute any inaccurate public records on your report.

Credit inquiries

There are two types of credit inquiries that will appear on your report: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. A hard inquiry happens when you’re applying for a new credit account, like a business loan, credit card, or mortgage. A soft inquiry occurs when you give an entity permission to check your report without it being part of a specific credit application. For example, if you check your free score through Credit Karma or if a lender checks your score for pre-approval, it would count as a soft inquiry.

Both types of inquiries will appear on your report along with the date your credit was pulled. When you’re applying for a loan, a lender will only see the hard inquiries on your report. Hard inquiries are removed from your report after two years.

Check your report every year to keep it accurate

Request your free credit report every 12 months to make sure it’s accurate, and you’ll be ready whenever the time comes to apply for a loan. If you need business financing, Pursuit can help! Explore the 15+ business loans we offer throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and get in touch with us to learn more.

Subscribe to The Goal Getter

Get the business insights and answers you need to navigate your business loan options.

By clicking "Subscribe" you agree to our terms and conditions.

Related articles

Find flexible, affordable business loan options

Subscribe to The Goal Getter

Get the business insights and answers you need to navigate your business loan options.
By clicking the button above, you agree to our terms and conditions.

You are about to leave the Pursuit website

Pursuit provides links from this website to other websites for your information only. Pursuit does not recommend or endorse any product or service appearing on these third party sites, and disclaims all liability in connection with such products or services. We are not responsible for the privacy practices, security, confidentiality or the content of any website other than our own. Pursuit does not represent members or third parties should the two enter into an online transaction, and recommends that you appropriately investigate any products or services prior to purchase. Questions as appropriate to the content should be directed to the site owners.