How to Get Legitimate Free Credit Report

There are many misleading advertisements on TV, radio, print media, and the Web touting various websites that will provide you with your credit report at no cost.  Many use the word "free" in their name or address but if you read the fine print you'll see that in reality there are costs involved, usually in the form of a subscription.

There is only one legitimate website for obtaining your credit report: AnnualCreditReport.com.  This is, as the site says, ". . . the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report"  and is the only one authorized by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to comply with the federal government's Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).  Therefore, according to the three bureaus, you should never give your personal information to "any other company or person for requesting free annual credit reports under the FACT Act."  In addition, AnnualCreditReport.com does not solicit consumers "via email, telemarketing or direct mail."

You can get one credit report "every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies" through AnnualCreditReport.com; if you stagger the obtaining of your reports, you can keep a nearly constant watch on your credit.  For example, you could get your Equifax report in the first quarter of the year, your Experian score in the second quarter, and your TransUnion score in the third or fourth quarter.

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