How to Retrieve an Old Credit Report

How to Retrieve an Old Credit Report
You can see problems with old credit cards on a former credit report.

Call a credit bureau. The three largest bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. According to Spend on Life expert Evan Hendricks, author of "Credit Scores and Credit Reports: How The System Really Works, What You Can Do," several major credit bureaus take monthly "snapshots" of their databases' credit reports; others, however, do not keep such information in their files and only have notes about old items on former credit reports.

Make a list of your reasons for needing an old credit report. By determining the information you need, and from which year it would have appeared, you can help the credit agency find the report easily. For example, if you suspect that someone opened credit card accounts in your name in 1999, that can help your representative find the report that you need.

Request a copy of your current credit report. Here, you can see factors from the past seven years that affect your credit negatively, from collections to delinquent accounts. If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past 10 years, this will also appear on your report. When you receive the report, make note of any suspicious activity to request further information from your credit bureau.

Request information from the credit bureau. For example, ask to see a copy of your credit report from May to December of 1999 if you suspect a fraudulent credit card account had been opened in your name. If you do not know which month the credit report you need to see belongs to, provide as many specific details as you can to your representative to help her narrow down the search criteria. In this example, you might ask for information regarding all credit cards opened in your name from 1995 to 2000. You may have to pay a small amount for administrative processing, depending on the age of the information you are seeking.