It’s been a while since I’ve checked my credit history so today I decided to get my free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. For those not familiar with it, it’s a website that the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) have set up based on a requirement from the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Using this website, you can link to the three agencies and get a free copy of your credit report from them once a year.
Bear in mind that once you link to one of the agencies, they will try everything in their power to entice you to spend money for other products (credit score, customized reports, etc.). You don’t have to do any of this. Stay focused. Just keep following the small links to get your free report. I always save the report as a pdf file. If you don’t have adobe creator then just copy and paste the html page to a Word (.doc) or Text (.txt) file.
Beware of Unofficial Websites Like FreeCreditReport.Com
As you’re probably aware of, there are many website out there that will sell you your credit report. Here’s a word from the Federal Trade Commission on these unofficial sites:
“Many other websites claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring.” But, be careful. These sites are not part of the official annual free credit report program. And in some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period ends. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.
These sites often look like the official site at annualcreditreport.com. Some use terms like “free report” in their names; others have website names that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.comin the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.”
Get Your Credit Report Three Times a Year for Free From AnnualCreditReport.Com
Since the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies are all required to provide you with a free copy every year, it’s a good idea not to pull them all at once.* Instead, it might be best to get your free report from each of the agencies at varying times during the year. For instance, you could pull one in late January (shortly after the holiday season), another in July (after returning from a vacation), and the last sometime in the fall (just for kicks).
*If this is your first credit history check or you are about to apply for a mortgage or you suspect fraud in your credit history then you will want to get all three at once. The three times a year method is just for general monitoring purposes.
Check Your Credit Score Now for Free
So, what about your credit score? Can you get that for free? Well, you can’t through annualcreditreport.com, but there are several websites that provide a version of your credit score for free. I tried out two of these sites today:
1.Credit.com’s Credit Report Card
Credit.com was founded by Adam Levin, a former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Here you can access your Credit Report Card. This is a very easy to follow report that provides your score and a summary of your credit report, along with grades for different areas of importance (mix, history, usage, inquiries, etc.). It’s very slick and as easy to read as a report card. According to the fine print:
“Your Credit Report Card uses real credit data from the credit bureau, TransUnion, and an authentic credit score. This data is not estimated.”
Here’s a snapshot of the report…
Credit Karma is a San Francisco marketing start-up backed by current and former executives of E-Loan Inc. Here you can track your credit score (also based on TransUnion) everyday for free. CreditKarma’s website is very 2.0-ish and extremely easy to use. I’ve signed up and plan on checking out my score once a month or so. Here’s a screen capture of the home page…
Based on all the signs these two companies appear to be legit and merely exists to provide you your credit information for free in exchange for showing you advertising. They don’t require credit card information. They also claim that they do not maintain your ssn. However, be sure and do your own research into the security of these products. I had no problems finding information about their services, security, and other FAQ on both sites.
3 Free Credit Scores Plus a Report
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