You are entitled to receive free credit reports every 12 months from each of the Nationwide Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. There is only ONE official service from which you can obtain the free annual credit report required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This service is provided jointly by the three Credit Reporting Agencies but is separate from their other proprietary services.
You may order your free reports online at the official website (annualcreditreport.com) or make your request by toll-free phone call to 877.322.8228. You may also order by mail using the order form included in this useful factsheet from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Your Access to Free Credit Reports, a fact sheet from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), explains how to use the service, answers questions, and provides contact information.
For safety I highly recommend that if you wish to order online you click on the link that I have provided or link to the official website from the Federal Trade Commission’s fact sheet. Dozens of unofficial sites (interested mostly in selling you something) and imposter sites (interested in stealing your personal info) are currently active on the Internet.
If you wish to review your credit report at more frequent intervals you may purchase individual reports from the three major CRAs: Equifax, Experian, andTransUnion.
I strongly recommend that you ignore all those ubiquitous offers of “free credit reports” or “free credit scores”—at best they are simply bundling the information (probably dated) you can get directly from the sources and at worst you’ll hit a scam site. The only exception to this is Credit Sesame and Credit Karma. I have written extensively on those services previously - See Here.
Another great way to start learning more about what shape your personal credit is in is by signing up for DCU’s FREE FICO Credit Score Service.
Currently any consumer anywhere in the U.S. may also request a free credit report if you’ve been “DENIED Credit, Insurance or Employment because of information supplied by a CRA.” You must request the report within 60 days of receiving a denial notice and the party who denied you credit, insurance or employment must provide the name and address of the CRA.
The FCRA also entitles you to a free credit report if you certify in writing that
- you are unemployed and will be searching for a job within 60 days
- you are on welfare
- you are a victim of fraud which has rendered your credit report inaccurate
Note that credit scores are NOT included in your free credit report
The federally mandated annual free credit report does not include your credit score. If you wish to know this you may purchase it for a modest fee from the Fair Issac company (myfico.com) that designed the original system or from any of the big three CRAs.