Free Credit Report

Alright, everybody knows they can get a free yearly credit report online, right?  But where to get it?  Here’s the link:  AnnualCreditReport.com.  This is the official source of the free annual credit report as authorized by law.

Note: If you want to look up more about the annual credit report scandal, the FTC has a handsome website on the subject.  The point is that the people who were offering a free credit report (but you had to sign up for monthly services first), now have to state that  they’re not the official free credit report website.

So here’s how to go about getting your annual credit report:

  1. Make sure you have a working knowledge of your debts and recent addresses.  The annual credit report site will start to verify your identity by asking for your date of birth and social security number, but it will then ask you a series of questions about outstanding loan balances and past addresses.  Some of them may be trick questions, so don’t freak out if the question is about a mortgage, and you don’t have one.
  2. Allot a nice period of time to do this.  It can take upwards of fifteen minutes if you’re unfamiliar with the process.  I also suggest that you do your lookup at a trusted computer with a printer.
  3. Pick the bureau you want to download from.  You have three choices: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.  You may not have a credit report at all three: for example, I don’t have a report at Transunion.  I also suggest you only download from one bureau every four months.  That way you can cycle through all three reports at regular intervals to check for fraud.
  4. As soon as you download your report, write down your confirmation number.  You will be able to access your report again for a few days if your computer is involuntarily logged off.  Print your report right away.
  5. Inspect your report with a fine tooth comb.  Identify any errors or misstatements.  Don’t fret if anything is incorrect, there are methods to cleaning up your report and it’s just a matter of working through the hassle.
  6. Write down your next download date on your calendar!  It’s easy to miss a date or forget which bureau you were going to download from.  I personally have my download dates in my tickler file.

There you go: free annual credit reports.  Now you know where to go and what to get when.  Good luck!

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