Checking your credit report and score annually is a great way to see your financial situation from a lender’s point of view.

Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free credit report every year when you request it from one of the three major consumer reporting companies, TransUnion©, Experian©, and Equifax©. Visit them online, give them a call at 1-877-322-8228, or complete an Annual Credit Report Request form and send it by mail. Simply provide your name and address, Social Security Number (SSN), and date of birth. This will verify your identity.

What’s great is that you can request a credit report separately or all at once. This allows you to monitor your credit score three times a year!

Additional reports may also be for free if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • If you were denied a loan, insurance, or employment based on a credit report. You must request it within 60 days of getting this notice.
  • If you get “unfavorable” terms relating to a loan, insurance, or employment based on your credit report.
  • If you have any reason to believe there’s a reason there’s an inaccuracy in your file.
  • You receive public welfare assistance.

After you’ve received a free report, you can still get paid reports by TransUnion©, Experian©, and Equifax©. By law, these institutions can charge no more than $12 for a report.

IMPORTANT TIP: There are other credit reporting companies in addition to the big three, but be wary of unauthorized sites that will ask for a credit card number and have you sign up for a membership. If you don’t cancel the membership in a certain amount of time, they charge your card. And they usually make canceling difficult on your end. If you feel you have been taken advantage of by ones of these “scam” companies, contact the Federal Trade Commission right away.


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