Oh, You Actually Want Your Credit Report?

Well, as of today, we East Coasters can finally order our free credit reports from the three major credit agencies. Not that they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, mind you, but only after they were required to by law.

Their retaliation? Make it as difficult as possible to actually get those free reports. By this time, since we’re coming in pretty much last on the list, you’d think that most of the kinks would have been worked out. So I decided to give it a try. To their credit (um... no pun intended), the three major bureaus have set up a single website — www.annualcreditreport.com — that supposedly makes it simple to get your reports. A one-stop shop, so to speak. And at first, it did seem pretty easy; the information they asked for was stuff only I would (be likely to) know, but not so tough that it was going to require me to dig through mounds of paperwork to find some obscure ten-year-old account number.

And then they informed me that, well, I’d have to go to the individual credit agencies’ websites to get the actual reports. Annoying, to be sure, but at least they seemed to provide a method to hop back once you’d gotten your report from each of them. Fair enough.

And then — surprise, surprise — it turns out that each of the agencies wants more information. Account numbers, payment histories, etc. Still, I had most of my information on hand (or could recall from an admitedly dusty memory), so I forged ahead.

The first two agencies — Experian and Equifax — didn’t generate too much difficulty. I got my reports and saved them as PDF files so I could print them later at will (after all, you only get one free report per year). Finally, it was on to the last, TransUnion. The first annoyance was that they required me to set up an account. Hmmm... okay, but there’s no way in hell I’m giving you my email address — that’d be just one more thing for you to tack onto the report. In fact, I’m not giving you anything you don’t have already. Next step: Entering the personal information for “verification” purposes.

Hey, an option for me to enter my old addresses — okay, we’ll start there. Only... what’s this? They’re telling me that the street number doesn’t match their records. Huh? Yeah, it does... let me try that again. Nope, doesn’t match. How about a different one... that doesn’t match either? Okay, I might buy one address being off, but two? My ass.

Okay, let’s try the credit card numbers... one down, okay. They want another one? Okay, here you go. You want the one from XXX bank? Um... well, technically, I’ve got two accounts there, so let me try the one I’ve got with me... Nope, guess it’s not that one.

Wait a minute... now you’re telling me that if I enter one more wrong answer, I won’t be able to get my report? What the hell? I have been entering the right information, assholes. Oh, you’re telling me that if I need help, I can call customer service... yeah, right. From all accounts, nobody can ever get through to anyone who might actually be in a position to help.

Okay, so I’ve got two out of three reports, and no red flags on either. I suppose I should count myself lucky... but no, dammit, that’s my report, which by law I am entitled to.

For now, I guess I’ll just step off and come back when I’ve got all my paperwork in front of me. And I’ll stay away from their obviously nonfunctional “address checker.” After that, we’ll see what happens, but I’m not too optimistic.


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