Searching for a free credit report is not always an easy task. Much of the time, companies claim that their reports are free, but only if input your credit card information and sign up for future monthly obligations. Not to worry! Federal Law requires the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to give consumers access to at least one free credit report per year. This allows consumers to know what is on their credit report, whether they can afford to pay for a report or not. Checking your credit report for errors is very important because errors can hinder your ability to pull credit, purchase a home, get better interest rates, and even get a job.
Access Your Free Credit Report
If you have not received a free copy of your credit report in the last 12 months you are entitled to one at no cost to you. The government regulated site that you can access your free report is annualcreditreport.com. Don't worry, you don't have to enter any credit card information or sign up for any ongoing programs. Simply select your state, choose all three credit bureaus, fill out your information accurately, and you will be directed to each of credit bureau websites where you will be able to access each report. Since you only have access to this report for a limited amount of time, it is a good idea to save your report as a PDF or print it out for your records. They are not always the most user-friendly reports, but they will give you the most comprehensive picture of your credit history.
Your free credit report will not come with a credit score. If you would like to know what your scores are, then you can either pay for a score from each of the three credit bureaus, or you can get your FICO score from MyFICO.com. FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, is a company that uses the information from each credit bureau to calculate your credit score. This is the standard score that most creditors use to determine your creditworthiness, but there are other scoring models out there. The credit bureaus will often sell their versions of a credit score, but these consumer scores are not entirely accurate and are often times misleading. Since your FICO score is what most lenders use when approving or denying you for credit, it is best to purchase your FICO score if you decide to pay for your score.