Saturday, May 06, 2006

Pulling my credit reports

As part of my house-buying daydreaming, I decided to do the annual credit-report pull -- now free, yay!

I did this last September, soon after it because available in New York, for David. That was tricky, since he has no credit cards in his name and has a very limited credit history in the U.S. None of the three credit-report vendors would give us online access to his reports. Each required a paper request. We filed those, and after a month or so got the reports for him from each place. (Tiny, two-page reports. Mine are like phone books.)

I'd thought I did the same for myself around that time, but I couldn't find the printouts I would have made in my files, so I decided to give it another go on Friday. The website is

First impression: This is elaborate. The site routes you in turn through each of the three reporting agencies. First up for me was TransUnion. In addition to expected stuff like my name, address and social security number, TransUnion wanted details on some of my accounts for identity verification. But credit reports are packed with dead accounts. It first rejected the number for my student loan notes and asked me instead to provide an alternative set of information verification data. Fine; I clicked the button to provide details on my revolving accounts. It came up with a list of a half-dozen accounts: three dead store accounts I probably still have open but no longer use, one long-closed card, and two current ones. I gave details on one current card. That checked out ok, but it asked for the account number for another. That too checked out -- but it wanted a third after that. I didn't have available the numbers for any of the store accounts or for the dead card. So I had to try a third verification method: Confirming old addresses. Fortunately, that one finally worked, and it gave me access.

TransUnion also wanted me to create a user name and password for returning to view the report within the next 30 days. More passwords to try to keep track of, whee. (I use CryptInfo on my Palm. It is invaluable.)

Experian was easier: It wanted me to answer a set of four verification questions, about the county I reside in, the street I used to live on, and two questions about my non-existent mortgage ('none of the above' was an option, and the correct one for me.) For return access, it wants me to keep track of the report number, rather than a password.

At Equifax, I bombed out -- it said records show I got my report from them on 9/2/05. Guess I did pull some in September after all. I'll have to hold off till the fall to pull that one.

So after all that to get the reports, how accurate were they? I'll get to that in my next update ...