Get an Absolutely Free Copy of Your Credit Report from All 3 Credit Bureaus at annualcreditreport.com

by RC on December 9, 2008

The other day I pointed out an offer thorough MSN Money where you could get a free copy of your credit report, all 3 credit scores, and credit monitoring service for a year for free if you were one of the 1st 10,000 people to sign up. Well, apparently that only lasted about 12 hours before the limit was reached.

But there is a program sponsored by the federal government where you can get one free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus once a year.

The 3 credit bureaus are:

  • Experian
  • Transunion
  • Equifax

Each of these 3 credit bureaus maintains a credit report on you based on your past borrowing habits and other financial traits. While they are usually similar in the information they contain, they can be slightly different and can contain errors. When you borrow money from a bank, most banks use a FICO score (your credit score) based on information from one of these credit bureaus.

The problem is, you don’t always know which one, especially ahead of time. That is why you want to review your credit report from each bureau and make sure it is accurate. The site to obtain a totally free, no strings attached credit report is annualcreditreport.com.

Don’t confuse this with freecreditreport.com, or any other service, many of which are not totally free with no strings attached-you normally have to sign up for some type of monthly service, which you will be charged for if you don’t cancel within the allowed time frame.

You can obtain a credit report from each of these once a year for free using annualcreditreport.com. Checking your credit reports is a good thing to do on a regular basis, especially if you think you will be borrowing money in the near future. You should check them for accuracy, and correct any mistakes you may find. Some people like to get one report every 4 months, so that they are monitoring their credit report every 4 months throughout the year.

It is important to note, however, that these credit reports do not contain your credit score. Normally, you have to pay for your actual credit scores, although there are a couple of ways to estimate your credit score that are free, such as myFICO score estimator, or a newer service called Credit Karma.

The myFICO Score Estimator estimates your score based on questions you answer. Credit Karma, on the other hand, gives you an estimated credit score for free based on actual information from the credit bureaus. I have not tried Credit Karma yet- but will in the near future. Credit Karma is relatively new-as far as I know- but has gotten good reviews thus far and appears to be legit-you do not have to give them a credit card number, so there is no way for them to charge you.

If you want to be absolutely sure you are getting your FICO score that a bank would see if you are getting a loan, you are probably going to have to pay. myFICO offers all 3 FICO scores and credit reports as a package deal, but I would only pay for these if you really need it.

It’s a good idea to monitor your credit reports on a regular basis, since it is free to do so using annualcreditreport.com. It is also free to get an idea of what your actual credit scores are, using an estimator such as myFICO score estimator, or Credit Karma so you can make informed decisions and manage your credit wisely.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve1776 December 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Get your free credit score at quizzle.com

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Anna March 14, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Are they really free? Heard some have hidden charges.

Anna

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RC March 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

@Anna: Annualcreditreport.com is the government sponsored site which actually does give you a copy of each of your 3 reports, once a year, for free with no strings attached. Some sites, such as freecreditreport.com require that you sign up for a trial and they will then charge you if you don’t cancel in time. To avoid that, use annualcreditreport.com.

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