Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act legislation, consumers are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit bureaus. Consumers should request these free reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion as permitted and review them for accuracy. Inaccurate items on a credit report can affect eligibility for things like auto loans, additional credit, and mortgages.
To order a free credit report from each of these agencies, individuals should visit the Annual Credit Report Web site or call the relevant toll-free number. Each of the three reports may be ordered at the same time or individually. If the consumer orders them individually, periodic review of the credit report can occur throughout the year.
There are sites other than the central Annual Credit Report site that claim to offer free credit reports. Consumers should beware of these because they are not government-sanctioned. Sometimes, the report these companies claim to offer at no charge comes with some stipulations. There may be a free trial period initially but this may change over to a paid service after a certain period of time. Users who do not cancel before the free trial expires are held liable for charges.
Other less than ethical sites have names similar to Annual Credit Report, hoping that consumers will not be aware they arrived at an imposter site. The site may direct visitors to another page that attempts to collect personal information or sell products. The authentic site will never send consumers an email requesting personal information.
To receive a free credit report through the government-approved site, consumers must provide their name, Social Security number, address, and birth date. They may also need to provide some additional identifying information for identity verification purposes. When requested online, the report is provided instantaneously for the individual to view and print.
Free reports are normally available yearly from from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion but if you want to purchase the reports you can order them all at once for under $40 from Equifax.
You might want to check your scores more than once a year, if you are worried about a major purchase, like a new home loan in the near future and if you worry about identity theft.