How To Get Your Credit Report for Free?
Maya M 25 January 2021
If you have applied for a loan or credit card, you would be aware how a bank or non-banking financial company (NBFC) asks for a number of documents to assess your creditworthiness.
This process involves gauging your ability to repay the dues  and willingness to make repayments; the latter involves assessment of credit score, among other things.  In the post-COVID where the income of many people has taken a huge hit and many have had to resort to increased borrowing, moratorium on repayments and loan restructuring, maintaining a good credit score is imperative.
In India, four credit information companies (CIC) or credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, CRIF High Mark, and CIBIL TransUnion provide credit score and detailed credit reports. The credit report of individuals is collated independently and generated by these four credit bureaus. 
Given the importance of the credit report in an individual’s financial matters, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), through a notification dated 1 September 2016, made it mandatory for all the four credit information companies in India to provide one free credit report including credit score, once every year (January-December), to individuals on request in case their credit history is available with the CIC.  
The free credit report provided is detailed and includes the same information as provided to banks and other lending institutions. This practice is in line with the global practice where all credit bureaus are mandated to provide one free credit report annually.
You can apply for a free full credit report from all the bureaus. To get the free credit report or credit score, you can visit the respective website of the credit bureaus and provide the date of birth, address, PAN (permanent account number) or Aadhaar number, identity proof, etc. Some credit bureaus may send you the report in 24 hours while others may allow you to download the report instantly.
It is important to check the report and see whether the details mentioned are correct. This can help individuals guard against fraud and identity theft. They can check their reports and get the errors rectified by informing the credit agency or the bank. 
CIBIL is a third-party agency that maintains and periodically updates credit profile of borrowers and share the same with lenders, service providers such as mobile phone companies and borrowers (for a fee). There are four authorised credit bureaus in India as of now. Of these, CIBIL is the oldest and has the widest coverage in terms of number of customer accounts. Newer ones, like Experian, Equifax and CRIF High Mark, are also growing fast. CIBIL receives information about your credit history from the respective banks and the lending companies after which CIBIL compares and collates it into one report.
Here is how you can get a free CIBIL report once a year.
Step 1: Go to the CIBIL website
Step 2: Fill out the provided form that requires your necessary information such as name, contact number, email address and click on continue.
Step 3: Fill out the additional details about you including your PAN (permanent account number). Make sure to enter your PAN details correctly to proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Answer all the questions correctly about your loans and credit cards, based on which your CIBIL score will be calculated, and your completed credit report generated.
These are the four main steps to be performed to check CIBIL score.
However, the ones below are a continuation of the above-listed main steps.
Step 5: You will be suggested various paid subscriptions (if you need more than one report in a year). If you require only a one-time, free credit score and report, then proceed to select No
Thanks at the bottom of the page.
This is the stage where your account is created, and a confirmation message is displayed on the following page.
Step 6: Using your login and password that was created in Step 2, you can log in to your account.
To proceed further, you need to authenticate yourself.  You will receive an email on your registered account. Click on the link and enter the one-time password provided in the email.
You will be prompted to change your password and login again.
Step 7: Once you log in, all your personal details will be auto-populated by default (please provide the accurate information if the fields are not auto-populated). Please enter your contact number and click submit.
Step 8: Once you submit that form, your dashboard will be shown with your CIBIL score. Additionally, you can get your credit report on the dashboard.
However, it is advisable that you regularly check/ review your credit score. One needs to monitor and track the credit report closely as the report is updated on a monthly basis. Read here to understand how to read and interpret your CIBIL report
You can follow the same step-wise process for the other three credit bureaus.
This free credit report shows the latest position of the credit institutions’ exposure to the individual as per records available with the CIC. The report contains credit score, summarisation of credit information, individual credit-related information (term, outstanding, delinquency), historical searches for individuals, to easily understand the credit performance and behaviour.
Further, the report contains detailed information of borrowers’ credit/loan history, including identity information, credit accounts, loans, credit cards, payments, and recent enquiries.
If you have already got your free credit report for the year and wish to continue monitoring your credit history, you can subscribe to the paid access plan from one of the credit bureaus.
Knowing the credit score helps in getting a loan at better terms. If the score is low, one can take corrective action, follow the right steps to improve the credit score as well.
Ramesh Popat
3 years ago
Good one!
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