free copies of your credit reportsWe’ve spoken at length about your right to check all three of your credit reports for free once every 12 months, but did you know that there are other times when you can get free copies of your credit reports? As dictated by section 612 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there are specific instances in which consumers can ask lenders or the credit bureaus for additional copies of their credit reports. Read below as we detail each of these instances.

You can get additional free copies of your credit reports …

After adverse action is taken against you

The FCRA states that consumers are allowed to receive a copy of their credit reports upon being denied credit, insurance or employment if the denial is a result of a credit report. Consumers may also receive a copy if they find themselves in other situations (e.g., receiving a notice of an unfavorable term change to their credit card). You might not receive this information automatically, but you are legally entitled to ask for it within 60 days after you receive the notice.

When you’re a victim of identity theft or your reports have inaccuracies

If you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, you can contact the credit bureaus directly to request a free copy of your credit reports and place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your reports. Usually contacting one credit reporting company is enough, as they’re all required to inform the others about your status, but it won’t hurt to speak to representatives at all three bureaus if that makes you feel more comfortable. Similarly, if you find an inaccuracy on your credit report and need to have it corrected, you can request to receive a corrected credit report after the inaccuracy is removed.

If you’re unemployed or on public assistance

The FCRA specifies that unemployed people who intend to look for work within 60 days of unemployment and those who are on public assistance can request an additional free copy of their credit reports for that year.

Are you also able to get free credit scores?

It’s important to note that credit reports and credit scores are two separate things, and while the information on your credit reports determine where your credit scores fall, they do not provide insight into your actual credit scores. If you want to check your credit scores through the credit reporting agencies, you must pay a fee every time you want to view them, which can get rather expensive if you hope to continuously track them. In addition, the FCRA allows you to see your credit scores if one was used in the decision to deny you credit, which would be noted in an adverse action notice. On top of that, some services, like your credit card provider, might offer the ability to view one of your credit scores for free.

If you want more opportunities to view all three credit reports and scores and track their process, your best bet would be to consider investing in a credit monitoring service, as a number of them not only provide you with copies of your credit reports and scores after signup, but they also monitor them for any changes, alerting you if they occur. What’s more, a number of these services offer free trials, which means you can test the service (and receive your credit reports and scores) before you make a financial commitment.

For more information about building and maintaining your credit, keep reading our credit report monitoring blog, and visit our credit monitoring service reviews to learn more about these services and find one that fits your credit-monitoring needs and budget.