Federal consumer-protection legislation, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, requires credit-reporting agencies upon request to disclose annually (that is, at any time within a twelve-month period) the contents of a consumer’s credit file to the consumer, at no cost to the consumer. All individuals who live or work in the United States are consumers. If you live or buy anything in the United States, then you are a consumer. The three major credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, as members of Central Source LLC — jointly administer a website, AnnualCreditReport.com, which is the official website where you can obtain your free annual credit report, once a year, that is, once in any twelve-month period. You can order your free annual credit report online, by phone, or by mail. AnnualCreditReport.com is a secure website.
At it’s website, the Federal Trade Commission tells citizens that AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for free annual credit reports. Watch the video: “All the others charge a fee, read the fine print and you’ll see.” At its Facts for Consumers website, the Federal Trade Commission displays much more information about AnnualCreditReport.com, the official website, and about how to identify and avoid “imposter” websites.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage displays information on many questions that consumers may have about their credit file, credit report, or credit score, including:
How do I request a “fraud alert” be placed on my file?
What is a credit file disclosure or a credit report?
How do I request my free credit report through the Annual Credit Report Request Service?
Am I entitled to a free credit report under state law?
How often can I request a free credit report through this website?
Should I order all my credit reports at one time or space them out over 12 months?
How else can I request my free annual credit report?
How do I request a credit report by mail for a child under 13 years of age?
How can I provide a suggestion or complaint about the Annual Credit Report Request Service or this website?
Where can I find information on disputing or correcting information in my credit file?
How can I exclude my name from nationwide consumer credit reporting company lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers?
What is a credit score?
How can I get my credit score?
What is the proper way to create a link to AnnualCreditReport.com?
How do I contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?
Where can I find out more about credit reports, my rights as a consumer, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the FACT Act?
What about companies that claim they can improve my credit report for a fee?
Where can I find out more about credit repair?
Where can I find out more about identity theft?
If I am visually impaired, can I receive my free annual credit reports in an alternative format?
How secure is my information?
Is it safe to provide my Social Security Number to AnnualCreditReport.com?
How does the online authentication process work?
Why do I need to type characters from a picture to submit my personal information?
What is a cookie?
How are cookies used on this website?
How can I accept cookies?
What should I do if I suspect I have received a fraudulent e-mail regarding this service?
How can I learn more about guarding against internet fraud and protecting my personal information?
What are proxy websites and how do I protect myself against them?
Without question, making an annual request for your free credit report is one of the most helpful things you can do to inform yourself about your credit file as well as to protect yourself against identity theft. If you want to see what you would look like to a prospective creditor, then order an annual credit report each year.
For information on what the Federal Trade Commission is doing to combat the deceptively named website Free Credit Report that is owned and operated by Experian, click here.