Annualcreditreport.com Is The ONLY Official Site To Get Your Free Annual Credit Report
Most of you have probably seen those annoying commercials for freecreditreport.com. What they don’t tell you is that your credit reports aren’t actually free: you have to agree to enroll in a 7-day trial of their Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring Service, which is reportedly very difficult to cancel after you get your free report. How convenient for them.
So many people have complained about this site that the Federal Trade Commission has taken it upon itself to create a series of hilarious parody commercials to get the word out that sites like freecreditreport.com are essentially scams. It’s not quite as catchy as the original, but I was amused by the bluntness of its accusations. Check it out:
Annualcreditreport.com Is The Only Site To Get Your Free Annual Credit Report
If the video or title didn’t make it clear enough, annualcreditreport.com is the site set up by mandate of the federal government and run jointly by the three major credit reporting agencies. As a consumer, you are eligible for a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting bureaus through that site. Any other advertisement you see for free credit reports is either a scam or requires you to sign up for some sort of trial, which you’ll probably forget to cancel. But why even bother? Annualcreditreport.com is free, overseen by the government, doesn’t require a membership, and will never charge you for anything.
The Annualcreditreport.com Process
Annualcreditreport.com provides you with exactly what you would expect: a free annual credit report from Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You’ll be asked to verify your identity by entering your name, address, social security number, and date of birth. While I can’t be entirely sure what they do with this personally identifying information, I can tell you I have never received any sort of spam or junk mail from the site.
Once you’re logged on, you will be asked to choose which bureau you’d like to view your annual credit report for and forwarded to their website. You will likely be asked to answer a few questions based on the contents of your credit report that only you, the owner of those accounts, would know the answers to. They are normally easy questions such as “what is the name of the financial institution that owns your mortgage” or “which of the following companies do you have a credit card through.”
Finally, you’ll be presented with the basic facts of your credit report, including delinquencies, late payments, negative items, employer information (there are always wrong on my reports, btw), current and former addresses, and a number of other important entries. Pay close attention to make sure all the information is correct, especially that there are no false negative remarks. If everything looks good, congratulations, you’re done. If you notice a mistake, you’ll probably want to file a credit report dispute as soon as possible.
What Does Annualcreditreport.com Not Provide?
Unfortunately, the legislation only grants you access to the free annual credit report itself and not your actual credit score, which is what lenders actually look at. If you aren’t in the market for a loan, checking each report once a year for errors is more than enough to monitor your credit and allow you to get suspicious items removed; however, if you’re in the market for a loan in the near future, say for a mortgage or auto loan, it would be wise to check your actual score. Two reputable places on the web to purchase your credit score are myFico.com, the official website set up by Fair Issac (and the company behind the Fico score), and Equifax. You can buy an Equifax report + Fico score for around $15 from Equifax, which I think is a decent price. Alternatively, if you want to see your exact score for each of the three credit reporting bureaus, you can check out their 3 Bureau Credit Report and Score product, which might be worth it if you’re in the market for a loan.