Print out copy of online credit report

Dear Dr. Don,
Help! I don't know where to turn. I recently requested a free annual credit report from Experian, and was turned down because the company's system showed I had received one within the past year, which is incorrect.

I did receive one from Equifax only four months ago, and I received one from all three agencies 18 months ago. I can't find any way to contact a real person to dispute this! Disputing something on a credit report requires a copy of the report, and I can't get one. Where can I turn?
-- Melissa McStymied

Dear Melissa,
You knew where to turn -- you sent out a call for help to Bankrate! I picked your question to answer in my column because I recently faced the same problem, only mine was with TransUnion.

I have a reminder on my calendar to request a report from a different consumer reporting agency every four months. Last year, I asked for my TransUnion free credit report a few weeks after the calendar prompted me to ask.

But I didn't adjust the reminder for this year, so I was told that I couldn't get a free copy because I had received one in the past year.

In my case, I waited a month and tried again. The second time I received my report.

I've asked Rod Griffin, manager of public education at Experian, for help with your situation. A review of your requests for a free annual credit report shows that you requested a free report from Experian in December 2007. You may have confused Experian with Equifax.

In our communications, you mentioned that part of the problem was that your computer crashed during the process of reviewing your credit report, so you didn't have a copy of the report for your records that would have let you know that you had requested your Experian credit report.

Nonetheless, Experian now has agreed to provide you with a current copy of your credit report.

Griffin has a recommendation when reviewing reports online in the future.

"The advice I always give is to print the full report immediately so that if the computer does crash, you will have the report," he says. "Once it is printed you can look at the various sections online and will have all of the contact information and dispute instructions if your computer does suddenly lock up."


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