Are Credit Reports Really Free?

Are Credit Reports Really Free?

Well, the short answer is maybe. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that each of the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are to provide you with a free copy of your credit report at least every 12 months. The FCRA is promoting the privacy and accuracy of data maintained in the files of the largest consumer reporting agencies.

The easiest way to get your credit report is to go to www.annualcreditreport.com, and you can register to view a credit report for each of the three largest consumer reporting agencies. The process is simple and it is secure. If you see an item listed on your credit report that is not accurate, you can dispute the item easily through each agency (and inaccurate items may only be on one report).

The one thing that is frustrating about reviewing the annual credit report maintained by each of the consumer reporting agencies is that you will not be able to see your credit score without paying an extra fee. Since your credit score is what drives your ability to be approved for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc., this is the information that is probably more important to you than your credit report.

If you Google terms such as “free credit reports” you are going to find many companies offering free credit reports. Most of these companies will provide you a report that includes your credit score, but you will have to input your credit card information in the event that you don’t cancel your membership after the free “trial” period has expired. These companies are banking on the fact that you will forget to cancel your membership, and they will charge you $10 a month for the rest of time.

Additionally, these companies try to tack on additional services such as credit score tracking, debt management, budgeting software and many other things pertaining to your financial well-being.

There are some completely free options out there. Quizzle.com provides a semiannual (twice a year) credit report and credit score for free. Quizzle also has a plethora of money management tools and calculators available that you can use to manage your financial life.

Now the downside to Quizzle is that you are only going to see your Experian credit report, which leaves two major reporting agency credit scores unknown. However, if you review your annual credit report, as long as the items listed on the report are the same, the score will be similar. Also, Quizzle tries to push you to sign up for its debt management service, to get a mortgage and an auto loan through its preferred providers and its own monthly credit action plan.

These services are as good as any on the web, but if you don’t need them, don’t sign up.

So there are free credit report options out there, but you need to be aware that the federal government’s required free report doesn’t include a score. You need to be very careful if you sign up for a free trial, as these companies will be happy to charge your credit card for months and/or years to come. If you want to just pay the fee for the credit score and view your options just click on the link below.

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