You see the ads everywhere. On the web. On TV.
On the radio. In newspapers. There are dozens, if not hundreds of companies
competing for your attention offering "free credit reports". While most are
legitimate offers, there is almost always a hook to get you to purchase
Is it any wonder consumers are overwhelmed and
confused? Why can't I just get my free credit reports? The truth is, of
course, these companies are in business to make money and have no real
interest in giving away something for free. So how can a consumer really
know who to trust in researching their credit information?
There is Only ONE Legitimate Source
We all know the Federal Trade Commission is an agency created to protect
the best interests of consumers. But few know that the FTC is the ONLY
place on the internet that makes credit reports available to the public
for free, through the three major sources: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. In fact, consumers are entitled to receive their free credit
reports every 12 months with no other purchase or obligation attached.
Many people don't realize that they don't have to go through one of the
commonly advertised commercial services to get their reports.
Avoid the Common Pitfalls
Just because the advertising makes it seem free and easy, don't make the
mistake of taking what seems to be the path of least resistance when
trying to obtain your information. You'll almost always find yourself
being enticed into ordering other related services before you get access
to your "free" credit report. That's not always such a bad thing if you
are interested in the additional services offered, but more often than
not, consumers just want access to their credit information.
It's no wonder the FTC receives complaints on a regular basis from
consumers who have been misled into thinking they must enroll into an
unrelated service, only to find out they are being charged a monthly fee
that they find very difficult to back out of. Naturally, the FTC
encourages consumers to report abusive situations involving false or
misleading advertising. The bottom line is that there is no need to fall
into the credit report trap. Go directly to the source.
Here's What You Need to Know to Get Your
Free Credit Report
Understand that according to the FTC, consumers cannot get free credit
reports directly through Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. These firms
must be contacted through the official website of the FTC. All you need to
do is go to your favorite search engine and type in "FTC annual credit
report". Be careful to look for the official FTC website which ends with .gov.
You will find many third-party websites that have a name similar to the
official site, so make sure you're on the correct website before taking
action. The FTC site will guide you step by step and show you what you
need to do in order to receive your free credit report.
When you conduct your search, avoid using terms like such as "free credit
report," "free credit score," "free credit history," or any other similar
phrases that will likely land you on a website that wants to sell you
something you don't need.
Your credit report is indeed, free every 12 months. With the current world
climate, it is vital that you review your credit history annually to be
sure your information is accurate and that you are not a victim of
identity theft. The truth is, you just have to know where to go to get the
information you need. Now you have it.