You’ve seen all of the ads for free credit reports on TV, you’ve heard them on the radio and you’ve seen them online, but there is only one official Web site where you can really get your credit report for free.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three companies have set up one central Web site, toll-free telephone number and mailing address through which you can order your free credit report. BBB suggests if you want to order your free annual credit report online, there is only one authorized Web site: annualcreditreport.com.
Many other Web sites 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. 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, the company may charge your bank account or credit card.
These sites often look like the official site at annualcreditreport.com. Some use terms like “free report” in their names; others have Web site names that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in 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.
If you get an email or see a pop-up ad claiming it’s from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message – it’s probably a scam. annualcreditreport.com will never send you an email solicitation for your free annual credit report, use pop-up ads, or call you to ask for personal information.
To order your report at annualcreditreport.com, you must provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to give your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide consumer reporting company also may ask you for information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information. That’s because the information each company has in your file may come from different sources.
For more information on credit, check out the BBB Web site at www. bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.