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Free Credit Reports Aren't Always Free

Ads have cropped up on the airways as well as on the internet pitching free credit reports for consumers. The companies know how important it can be for consumers to get these reports and check them regularly for mistakes. They offer the free report with the aim to pull in customers who will also be signing up for paid services. If you are looking for free credit reports there is only one site offering this option, no strings attached. Read on for an important look at the credit reporting industry and the companies seeking to make money from it.

Your credit report contains a wealth of personal information about you: your name, address, social security number, phone number, income, debt, credit accounts, and more. Millions of consumers have their credit history tracked, stored and tabulated by the Big 3 Credit Reporting Bureaus: Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. These companies combined control the vast part of the credit reporting sector.

So many consumers are tracked, therefore literally trillions of transactions are monitored and billions of entries are included on these reports. Because of the sheer volume of transactions and entries being made, somewhere errors are bound to occur.

Consumer groups, who have long been watching the industry have banded together to force upon the Big 3 Credit Reporting Bureaus some changes over the years that impact and benefit you, the consumer.

One change involved pressuring Congress to authorize the three reporting bureaus to give to you one free copy of your credit report from each bureau annually. This means that you can get three free reports each year for no charge. Consumer groups pushed for the free release of the reports because the Big 3 Credit Reporting Bureaus basically had all of your personal information whether you wanted them to or not and were charging you to receive it!

Thanks to Congress’ authorization the Federal Trade Commission has arranged for a website to be set up where consumers can get their credit reports for free: www.annualcreditreport.com. You get a free credit report and have the option to purchase your credit score separately. It is recommended that you get all three reports. Why not they are now free? It is also recommended that you obtain the credit scores at some point throughout the year. Each agency is different and tabulates their scores differently too, so you should consider the benefit to you obtaining all 3 scores.

Other sites will often tout the availability of free credit reports but usually with a major catch. You will have to sign up and pay for their credit monitoring service. Frankly, you can monitor your own credit and if identity theft has been an issue for you, you can notify the Big 3 Credit Reporting Bureaus: Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax separately.

So, order your 3 free credit reports today, but do it only through the one site that is authorized to provide them free to you, no strings attached! Using this site guarantees you will get what you are entitled to, a truly ‘free credit report’ without any cost to you.

* Original article revised and edited by Tanya Frazer