Can’t Get Your Credit Report Online? You’re Not Alone

Annual Credit Report was set up by the three major credit bureaus and the government, so that all of us can see what information, about us, is distributed to creditors, landlords, employers, insurance agents, utility services and more.  The idea is that we can go online, answer a few questions about ourselves and the information in our reports and, viola, see our data.

Unfortunately, it does not always work that way. Many people experience problems accessing their reports online. When they cannot see their report, they are referred to a form that must be mailed into the credit bureaus in order to obtain their credit report.

What is rarely communicated with that form, is that people need to submit proof of their identity, as well. This typically means three pieces of information:

  1. An identification card (driver’s license, military ID, state issued ID, etc.).
  2. Item verifying social security number.
    • Social security card
    • Pay stub with the social security number
    • W2 form
  3. Address verification. The driver’s license or ID may be used for this purposes as well. Otherwise a rental or lease agreement, pay stub with address or utility bill are typically accepted.

If you do not submit these items with the form, the credit bureau will typically mail you a letter requesting them. This can make the process of obtaining your credit report take months.

When all of the necessary information is submitted to the credit bureaus together, you should receive your reports within two-to-four weeks.

Why Can’t I Get My Report Online?

The most common reasons for being unable to access your credit reports online is being unable to remember key pieces of information. The other issue may be that the address you entered when requesting the report does not match the address the credit bureau has on file.

Answering questions incorrectly can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes people are asked about accounts that they do not have. The answer seems simple enough, “None of the above.” But confusion may lead to selecting the wrong option.

Others are not sure of the name of creditors listed on their credit report or the amount of loan payments that they make on accounts. Both of these are common questions and if you’re unsure, you may choose the wrong answer.   

Finally, some people cannot remember the names of streets they lived on long ago. In some cases, a person may have lived on the street 50 years ago and have no recollection of the name.

Quick Tips

Here are a few quick tips for making the process of obtaining your credit reports, online, a painless experience.

  • If you have an old copy of your credit report review it prior to requesting the new report. You can look at old addresses, older accounts, dates accounts were opened and more to help you answer questions more confidently.
  • If you have auto loans or home loans, keep your statements handy. These type of accounts are likely to show up in the questions.
  • If you have moved within the last two years, fill in the section of the questionnaire requesting your previous address.

If you have tried to obtain your credit reports online and via the mail and are still unsuccessful, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They may be able to contact the credit bureau and speed up the process for you. They also collect information about the credit bureaus and work with them to make the process to obtain our credit reports simpler.