We all like free things, right? But if you’re like me, you probably wonder what’s the catch when you hear that something is free.
When it comes to financial products and services, there’s almost nothing that’s really free. So when I hear commercials and websites offering free credit reports, and free credit scores, the first thing I do is to check with the FTC to make sure that it’s not a scam.
When it comes to checking your credit report (which is different than your credit score, you knew that I hope) there is only one site that I trust: AnnualCreditReport.com. No, this isn’t an advertisement for them; it’s simply an unbiased review to explain why AnnualCreditReport.com isn’t a scam.
Is Annual Credit Report a Scam?
Absolutely not, and I’ll explain why. First, there are a lot of sites out there that claim to assist in providing your credit report. While there may be some legitimate sites out there, AnnualCreditReport.com is the only one that is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.
From the FTC Website:
AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every 12 months. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, and yet couldn’t get it without paying fees or buying other services. TV ads, email offers, or online search results may tout “free” credit reports, but there is only one authorized source for a truly free credit report.
Who Controls AnnualCreditReport.com?
Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we all have annual access to our credit reports for free. In fact, we can obtain one copy each year from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Since these bureaus are required by law to provide your free annual credit report, it made sense to have one central place to provide all three reports. The three bureaus came together to create the joint venture company Central Source LLC, which controls the website AnnualCreditReport.com. All phone, email and mailings from the site are controlled by these three credit bureaus under their joint company.
Rest assured that AnnualCreditReport.com is not a scam!
Your Credit Report is Always Free
Don’t fall for sites that try to get you to buy something in order to obtain a ‘free credit report.’ You can view your credit report in about 5 minutes from AnnualCreditReport.com. You have the ability to download all three reports at once or to space it out through the year. Some people pull one of the three reports every 4 months so that they have a rolling view of what’s happening with their credit.
Your Credit Score Isn’t Free on AnnualCreditReport.com
When you go through the site, you’ll notice that it will prompt you to buy your credit score. You do not need to buy your credit score in order to view your report. Your credit report is meant to show you the extended credit that is to your name. Your credit score tells you and lenders how credit-worthy you are.
Check Your Credit Report, It’s the Smart Thing to Do!
Identity theft costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, victims of identity theft usually have no idea about the fraud until months or even years down the road. It’s most common to find out about fraud when you’re rejected for a car or home loan because of poor credit.
Wouldn’t it be nice to monitor what’s happening with your credit instead of paying ‘defense’ after someone steals your identity?
That’s why checking your credit report annually is so important.