How to Secure Your Own Credit Report Without Charge

Surely you've seen those online vendors hawking credit monitoring services "for free." It sounds good, but the catch is some force you to buy something else before they let you see the free stuff. The good news is these sites must post a disclosure notice that says where you can get a free annual copy of your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission only authorizes AnnualCreditReport.com to provide those reports. That site is sponsored jointly by the three major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This report does not include your credit score; you’ll have to pay a small fee to see that.

Step 1

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. On the home page, select your state of residence and choose "Request Report."

Step 2

Enter your name, date of birth, social security number and address. If you have lived at your current address for less than two years, also enter your previous address. A security feature will display a series of random characters. Enter those characters in the box provided and click "Continue."

Step 3

Select at least one of the reporting agencies. The system will retrieve credit reports only from the reporting agencies you select.

Step 4

Answer the questions that appear on the agency page. These questions, which are based on information from your credit history, are generated by the system as a security measure. Have your financial records handy; you may need to refer to them to answer some of the questions.

Step 5

View your selected credit reports. You can print out hard copies if you wish.

Step 6

Order a free credit report by phone at 877-322-8228. To get one by mail, go to the FTC website and print out an Annual Credit Report Request Form. Mail the completed form to the Credit Report Request Service, Post Office Box 105281, Atlanta, Georgia, 30348-5281.

Tips

  • The FTC suggests you request just one credit report at a time. Revisit AnnualCreditReport.com every four months, and request a different report each time. That way, you get year-round reports at no charge.
  • If you think there is an error on a report, you have the right to initiate a dispute through the website of the credit reporting agency website. Request a fraud alert if you see an account listed that you don’t recall or any suspicious information. For help, visit the FTC website ftc,gov and read “How to Dispute a Credit Report” and “Fighting Back against Identity Theft.”

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.