How to get your free credit report
Everyone is entitled to a copy of their credit report
from each of the credit reporting agencies each year. But be sure
you're getting it free. Here's how.
You can access the information
online at annualcreditreport.com,
but watch out -- if you don't get the Web address exactly right
or if you search for terms such as "free credit report,"
you could get sucked in and scammed by one of the many credit report
"impostors" inhabiting cyber world. A third method of
obtaining the information is by regular mail, but you must first
complete a form to send with your request and, of course, it takes
The free credit reports came as a result of the FTC's
ruling under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
According to the ruling, the three
major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian
-- each are required to provide consumers, upon request, a free
copy of their credit report once every 12 months from a centralized
source. This centralized source includes a Web site, a toll-free
telephone number and a postal address.
The reports are not automatically
be sent out. You must request them in one of three ways: over the
Internet by going to annualcreditreport.com;
by phone, by calling 877-322-8228; or by completing the Annual
Credit Report Request Form, and mailing it to: Annual Credit
Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
The trio of reporting agencies
established a single authorized Web source for customers to access
the information for free: annualcreditreport.com.
That is the only federally mandated source for free, no-strings-attached
The rest of the Internet Web sites
advertising "free" reports are in fact impostors whose
real agenda is to steer unsuspecting consumers into a for-profit
marketing enterprise, according to a World
Privacy Forum in-depth investigation and report.
a long-time pro-technology advocate, it saddens me to advise consumers to avoid
a legitimate Internet site," says Pam Dixon, WPF executive director. But,
she adds, even the AnnualCreditReport.com site blurs the lines as to what services
are free to consumers and what are available at a cost.
The WPF report uncovered dozens
of confusing sites, many of which are operated by Experian, Equifax
and TransUnion, the big three bureaus who together run the government-mandated
and authorized free report site.
deceptive and misspelled domains
An estimated 50 impostor domains are active and luring unsuspecting
customers to questionable sites -- including Experian, Equifax and
TransUnion sites that charge for the very same service they are
offering for free. In other words, while they run one Web site jointly
that offers free reports, they're also running dozens of other sites
-- often under different names, such as ConsumerInfo.com -- that
charge for the same or additional services.