Free credit reports? You hear this on the radio and TV all the time. But are they really free? Well yes and no. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) you can request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. But a credit report and a credit score are not the same thing.
Credit file disclosure provides you the “credit report” that contains all the information in your credit file. This information is maintained by one of three consumer reporting companies and may be provided to you or a third party such as a lender. It will also contain information on everyone that has received a consumer report about you from the reporting company.
A credit score on the other hand is a complex mathematical model that takes all the information from your credit report and ranks you on a scale. This credit score is used by a lender to help them determine if you are qualified for a loan, a credit card or a service. The score estimates the likelihood that you will make payments on time over the next few years. If you want to know your credit score you must purchase it.
That’s a very basic explanation of credit reports and scores that I wanted to share with you before I linked you to the useful site I am going to be talking to you about today.
Yesterday I spoke about the scam known as Phishing which is part of a larger problem known as identity theft. One of the ways to help protect yourself is to be aware and knowledgeable about your credit report.
With the FACT Act we can view a free report every year. I have listed and linked the three companies below.
Equifax – For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.
Experian – For more information, please visit www.experian.com.
TransUnion – For more information, please visit www.transunion.com.
These companies are the sponsors of the annualcreditreport.com site. You could chose to view your report from all three of them at once or you could spread them out to get a free report every few months.
I chose to view only one and I selected Equifax as the company of my choice. Remember the report is free, the credit score is not. Read carefully and fully all the information that is presented to you as you fill out the forms. They offer you the opportunity to buy your credit score and other pay services and you will want to be sure not to if you only want the free report.
Have your printer ready to go if you want to have a hard copy of this report as they only let you view it once and only during the current session. I would suggest reading through the FAQ on the site as well to familiarize yourself with all the information on this subject and just take your time with the report when you view it. The Equifax report that I received was detailed and explained everything that I needed to know in each section.
Good luck in your journeys on the web and don’t forget to be safe!