In December 2003, the United States Congress passed important legislation called the “Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act” which enables the average man on the street to receive, upon request, a free credit report once a year from the three major reporting agencies.
Accessing your credit rating is very important, as it enables you to check out your own eligibility for loans, credit cards, mortgages, apartments, jobs or just to find out how clean your own credit rating is.
Unfortunately, just because legislation is passed does not ensure that its implementation is easy. Nobody likes to give away their hard work for free and this is true as well for the companies that have gathered your information. They will try to hook you and get you to buy their company products. So beware.
Here is how to get started on finding out what your credit rating looks like for free.
In the United States there are three major credit reporting agencies. They are Equifax, (http://www.equifax.com) Experian (http://www.experian.com/) and TransUnion (http://www.transunion.com/). All three have on-line sites (see links). Go to each site and order your free report from each. We recommend that for the first time you get reports from all three companies to see how they compare.
But, please be aware. Although these companies are required by law to issue free credit reports, they only need to do so when an official request has been made. In addition, these companies are not prohibited from trying to sell you their other services and from trying to make money off of you. They do not like having to provide you with these reports for free as they worked hard to gather your credit information.
But you, the consumer, are also free. You do not have to buy the additional services (although you can) to get your free report. Only you can determine how important it is to you to get future monthly or quarterly credit reports on yourself, or information on how to understand the reports. As you surf these websites, you will find them filled with many such offers which make it very difficult indeed to find just exactly where to go to get your free report.
We recommend that you not be distracted by any of the offers that are not free as per the requirements of the government. You should also know that there are many scams out there being offered by companies trying to “help” you get your credit rating by taking your money for something that should be free.
To prevent all this, we highly recommend that you go directly to the contact pages and send an e-mail to the addresses there with your request for your free credit report as required by law. And if you prefer more direct contact, find out their phone number and give them a call with your free credit report request.