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How to Get a “Real” Free Credit Report

Free Credit ReportsIt’s easy to get confused by all the catchy TV commercials, banner ads and websites promoting “free credit reports.” Your credit report is key to understanding your financial health, but 99% of the offers you see on TV (or online) have strings attached. Most require you to sign up for a free trial of some sort of financial service (often credit monitoring) to receive your free report. If you fail to cancel before the trial ends, you’re stuck paying monthly charges. But there is a legitimate way to get your credit report for free. Thanks to a federal law enacted in 2005, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from all 3 credit bureaus.

By law, the three major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. The reports will not be sent automatically, but you can request your credit reports one of three ways:

  1. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only authorized source for consumers to access
    their free annual credit report online.
  2. Request your free credit reports by phone at: (877) 322-8228
  3. Complete the Annual Credit Report Request brochure and send it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

These are the only authorized ways to order your free annual credit reports (entitled to you under law). Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports” are not part of the federally mandated free annual credit report program. Although you can get a free credit report though one of these other websites or programs, you need to be aware of all strings attached to the offer and ensure you cancel any trial services that are included.

ALSO: If you’re requesting your free reports online, be sure to type AnnualCreditReport.com correctly. If you enter the wrong web address, impostor sites will try offering additional products and services.

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