The Business of Trucking
A free credit report that’s really free
As of Sept. 1, 2005, everyone in the United States is entitled to get a free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. Unfortunately, many people are finding that actually getting their free credit report is next to impossible because bogus Web sites are tricking people into paying, and even the major credit bureaus make it quite difficult.
So how is it a free credit report if you have to pay for it? That’s exactly what we were wondering. Don’t pay for something you’re entitled to.
A bit of background: There are three major companies that track and report your credit history—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. So while there are hundreds of companies who would like to charge you for receiving your credit report, there is only one Web site that you can go to to get your free credit report: AnnualCreditReport.com.
Be careful; many so-called free credit reports are just credit monitoring services. These services can be used to prevent identity theft, but I don’t think they should be used as a bait-and-switch tactic for getting a free credit report. Even worse, some bogus Web sites—especially those you hear about via spam—are simply phishing scams. NEVER respond to a spam offer to get a free credit report.
Why do you need a copy of your credit report? There are many reasons, including making sure your information is correct (which is important if you want to apply for a loan or a new credit card) and to help monitor against identity theft. Here are four tips for getting your free credit report:
Tip 1: Watch your spelling if you type in the Web address because many of the bogus sites are just one letter away from the site you want.
Tip 2: To gain maximum benefit, space out your free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus over the year. This will allow you to see changes that occur over time.
Tip 3: Print or download your credit report(s) immediately. You may not be able to gain access again for free later.
Tip 4: After you get your free credit report, quit your browser so no one else can access it.