Many websites will tell you that they offer a free credit report, but many (if not most of them) have some fairly significant strings attached. Whether they are trying to sucker you into giving them your credit card information or just want to bombard you with a plethora of ads, these sites are not the easiest or safest way to get your credit report.
What is my credit report?
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are three nationwide credit reporting agencies that gather information about your credit history. This report includes information on where you live, your bill payment history, whether or not you have been sued and if you have filed for bankruptcy. Each year you are allowed to request one free copy of your report from each of these three companies. Because each company focuses on different aspects of your financial health, a report from one may not look the same as a report from another.
What information do I need to get a free credit report?
In order to get a free credit report you will need your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number. If you have moved recently you may have to provide your previous address. The credit reporting agencies may ask you specific questions (like how much you pay per month on a mortgage or finance plan) to make sure that you are the person you say you are.
Why should I check my credit report?
Your report isn’t important only when you are applying for an auto loan or a mortgage. Periodically checking on your credit score to make sure it is accurate is a good way to make sure that you are maintaining the best possible credit score. This also lets you know if you have any payment history (like missing payments, an ex-spouse that isn’t making car payments, or an outstanding collection fee) that you don’t know about. Sometimes mistakes are made as well, and when you know what is on your report you can take steps to have them changed or removed.
Where can I get an official free credit report?
You can get an official free credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only official credit reporting site for the three main credit reporting agencies. You can also call to request a report at 1-877-322-8228.