How to get free credit reports

There is only one official way to get free credit reports. Here's what to do.

By MSN Money Partner May 24, 2011 10:41AM

This post comes fromMiranda Marquit at partner blog Bargaineering.

 

Your credit reports are your financial reputation. The way you handle your money is recorded in your credit files, and there are a number of people who check your credit reports and use them to make judgments about your likelihood of paying back a loan and other areas of responsibility.

 

It's not just lenders who will look at your credit reports. Insurers, employers, cellphone service providers and landlords may all want a peek at your reports.

 

According to the law, if you ask for copies of your credit reports, they have to be provided to you (you might have to pay for them, though). The credit bureaus must let you see everything they have in your credit files.  Post continues after video.

You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). You can order a second credit report from each of these bureaus for up to $10.50 apiece in the same 12 months.

If you want to get free credit reports, you can do so fairly quickly. Here is your quick guide to the process:

  • Open your Web browser and type in AnnualCreditReport.com. There is only one official way to get free credit reports. Do not go directly to a credit bureau website. 
  • Provide the requested information. You will be asked to select your state and then hit the red button to the right. You will be taken to a page where you need to fill in your information. Then, you can choose which credit reports you want to view. 
  • Provide verification information for the credit bureaus and see your reports. Next, you will be taken to a credit bureau's annual credit report page, and you might be asked to verify information about loans you have had or previous addresses. Once you have done that, you will be taken to a credit report. 

Why you should check your credit reports

Checking your credit reports is important to ensure that everything is as it should be. You should look for inaccuracies in your reports, since the information is used to calculate your credit scores. If there is inaccurate information, it could lead to lower credit scores, which could cost you more in terms of interest charges.

It's a good idea to know what is in your credit reports before you apply for a major loan, such as a home loan. That way, if you see problems, you can work on improving your situation, rather than being surprised with a rejection when you apply.

Additionally, your credit reports can also indicate whether your identity has been stolen. If you see an account that you haven't opened, it could mean that your identity is being used fraudulently. Someone may have opened a credit card in your name or used your name for some other loan. If necessary, you can place a fraud alert on your report to prevent identity thieves from opening more accounts in your name.

 

Your credit reports are important pieces of financial information. Make sure that you know what's in them.

 

More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

4Comments
Jan 11, 2013 11:48AM
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All people should always get credit monitoring with their credit reports.That way they can protect their credit report against identity theft.Unfortunately credit monitoring is not free, but it can be found for cheap (about 10-15$/mo).Last month I found one great company that offered all in one for $9.If anybody is interested, here is the link: GoCreditReport.info

They offer all in one free credit report, credit monitoring and fraud protection.

Hope that helps.
May 9, 2013 3:55PM
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Just another way to keep an ever-watchful eye on the sheeple.
Don't be a sucker !!!

Oct 9, 2012 10:29PM
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Look there is loop holes in how to get credit reports and score. If you go to your banks website they may have an id theft service that you can try out for  30 day trial. billing will occur on the 30 day so make sure you cancel before the deadline. Please be considerate to the agent you speak with on the phone when you cancel. The agent is just like you trying to make a dollar and has to try to rebuttal to save you or the will get fired and the cancellation goes against that persons numbers. The agent main focus is to help you but are required and pressured to save customers. when you call to cancel say you are permanently moving out of the country to India or ask for a supervisor at the beginning of the call before you let them know you are canceling, every company has exceptions on agent call rate if you say the right thing. Please be kind to agents and only screw the company. http://www.itacsentinel.com/
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