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Free Personal Credit Report
 Aug 05, 2004


Keeping track of your personal credit history, score, and report is important. In doing so you are able to monitor, fix, or repair any errors on your credit report. This article will tell you how and where to get a free personal credit report annually.


One of the most important things you can do for your personal finances is to regularly check your credit report. Unfortunately, it can get a little pricey to check your credit report especially if you do it three or four times per year as financial experts recommend.

Happily, there are ways to get a free personal credit report. However, it is important to be careful. In many cases you may be signing up for more than you expected.

Truly free personal credit report

The only truly free personal credit report authorized by all three major credit bureaus is the report offered through annualcreditreport.com. This is a Web site set up jointly be the three major credit bureaus in response to a recent law requiring them to allow everyone access to one free credit report per year.

The one free credit report a year applies to each of the three credit bureaus, so you actually get three free copies of your credit file each year one each from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Many people choose to stagger their free reports over the course of a year, getting a free report every four months. While this can work well, it is important to remember that the information in the reports may differ according to credit agency. Not every company reports to all of the agencies.

After your free credit report for the year, you then have to pay to access your credit file. And it is important to note that you almost always have to pay for your credit score. Your credit score is not covered by the law, and no one has to provide it for you free of charge.

Free personal credit report strings attached

There are other companies and services offering access to your free personal credit report. Unfortunately, this setup often comes with strings attached. In many cases, you are required to sign up for some credit monitoring service or for some other product. When you get your "free" credit report, you agree to be charged for something else. In many cases you have to enter in your credit card number so that it can be charged automatically.

When you see advertisements for a free personal credit report from a site other than annualcreditreport.com, be very careful. Changes are that you are going to have sign up for another product or service. The report is only "free" as long as you sign up. Most of these services offer a trial period. This can work out in terms of a free personal credit report, as long as you remember to cancel the service during the trial period. Each of the three major credit bureaus offers "free" additional credit reports when you sign up for credit monitoring.

If you decide to get a personal credit report from a service advertising free reports when you sign up for a service or a "trial" period, make sure you are very careful. Read the fine print, and make sure you know when the trial period ends. Understand how the company will bill you, and consider whether you are interested in paying for a service that you can largely do yourself for much less.

Paying for your personal credit report

While a free personal credit report is a nice thought, for the most part paying to access additional reports on top of your free reports from each of the major credit bureaus can actually be less expensive. Often, credit monitoring services have a monthly rate, plus a per-service charge for some actions. By the time you pay a monthly fee of between $10 and $20 (for $120 to $240 a year), plus any other charges that may come up, you can see why just paying for your credit report twice (you can usually get a three in one plus score for $45 or $50) more during the year beyond your free personal credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com can actually save you money.

The truth of the matter is that many of the services that offer a "free" personal credit report are not actually free. You actually get snared into paying for something else that can be even more costly. The only truly free, no strings attached site for a personal credit report is annualcreditreport.com.



Related Article: Credit Report Monitoring >>



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