Are Credit Reports Really "Free"?
Or Is That A Scam?
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There are lots of online companies that offer people "free"
credit reports - hundreds if not thousands. I personally love
"free" - if it's really free, that is. For me, the lure
of anything free, from an iPod to my FICO report, has almost instant
appeal. I don't think I'm alone in this: "Free credit reports
no credit card needed" has a nice ring to it, no?
Are credit reports really "free"? Or is that a scam?
In this article, we'll tell you what's up with some of the companies
that offer you free credit reports, and tell you how to get an
absolutely free consumer credit card report without getting scammed.
Here's the first thing that you need to know: per the government,
the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian,
must provide you - upon request - with a free credit report every
12 months, meaning once a year. Since you can get a free report
from all three bureaus, if you have bad credit, and you're trying
to repair it, our advice would be for you to space out your individual
requests to the bureaus so that you can monitor changes to your
credit rating over time.
If you want more instant gratification, and wish to view your
credit report immediately, there are many online companies that
will let you do so. Many of them will offer you a free trial,
but most of these will ask you for a credit card. Once your trial
period is over - be it after three days, or a week, or a month
even, your credit card will be charged for continuing on with
Many sites online actually provide credit monitoring services,
which is why many will charge you a fee after your trial is over.
Be aware of internet companies that try to get you to sign up
for unrelated offer in exchange for a free trial of your credit
report viewing. Only after you complete one of these other offers
can you then view your credit report. Many times, these other
"free" offers might also ask you for your credit card
information, and the "offers" are always as free or
instantaneous as you might expect. They can sometimes take weeks
to bring your commitment to full term, and by then, you may not
even need your credit report anymore. So be careful, and really
read that fine print when you find an online credit reporting
company that's advertising its service for free.
As well, many internet credit report companies are "phishing"
for your personal and private information. To best avoid such
online companies, don't ever respond to an unsolicited offer to
get a free report that happens to find itself in your spam folder.
The surefire way to get a report for free, You can contact each
of the credit bureaus and make a request directly to them. However,
that may not necessarily be the fastest way of getting your free
credit report; there's another way that might save you some time.
The FTC, in an effort to regulate online companies that offer
free credit reports, supports www.annualcreditreport.com
as an authorized site to get free credit reports from. You can
also request credit reports for free by calling 877-322-8228 or
by mailing a request in.
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