Mortgage Shopping with Bad Credit? How to Get Your Credit Reports Free!

By Kelly Wingard
Mortgage Credit Problems Columnist

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Bad credit can complicate mortgage refinancing, but poor credit performance doesn't necessarily mean you are stuck with your current home loan forever. Plenty of lenders will work with you to obtain a mortgage loan, but to help them do their job you need to properly prepare for a bad credit home loan refinance. One way to do this is to know what is in your credit report in advance of your loan application. By following the steps below, you can obtain credit reports for free.

Free Credit Reports

Congress amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act so that beginning September 1, 2005, consumers across America have the right to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the big three consumer reporting companies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies aren't required to send you your credit reports automatically; you have to ask for them.

Ordering Credit Reports

Ordering copies of your credit report is as easy as typing annualcreditreport.com into your Web browser. There you are prompted to enter your name, address, date of birth, and social security number, and the information is protected through encryption. You are prompted to answer a series of individual questions relating to your current loans to verify your identity in order to continue.

You can select where you would like to receive reports from, but it is a good idea to check all three. You can also call 877.322.8228 or complete an Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:

Annual Credit, Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

The form is available at ftc.gov/credit, and you will not need to contact the three reporting companies individually.

Federal Trade Commission: Your Access to Free Credit Reports
US Treasury: Your Access to Free Credit Reports

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