The credit report bureaus under the direction of the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA have made it possible for you to access your free reports online, by phone, or through the mail every 12 months. You can request your free report at any time of the year. The bureaus as required by law did this because of the rash of identity thefts, inaccurate reporting on the part of the bureaus and because consumers have a general right to see what is in their credit reports without having to pay a fee. For some this free service has been a life saver.
The website that is regulated by the federal government and working in conjunction with the bureaus provide instant access to free credit reports when you provide your personal information. The site is a secure site so there is no need to worry about providing your information to it. Be wary however of scam websites that claim you can get your credit history for free only to charge your card later when you provide them with this information. The government website that provides your free history will not ask you for any financial information in order to charge you for it.
Having access to your files can be very helpful because you can see if the information contained in them is accurate and up to date. If there are any inconsistencies or information that you do not recognize, you can dispute this information with the bureaus and they are required to investigate it and remove the item if it is not accurate or pertains to you.
Your free report will not include your score which you will have to obtain from one of the paying services. But make sure that the site is legitimate and secure before you sign up for it. The information in your file is used to calculate your score and this is what lenders and creditors will use to determine your creditworthiness. It is like a grade you receive for your financial behavior, the higher your score the better your credit and the lower your score the poorer your credit.
If you need a hard copy of your credit files for your records you'll need to either call the phone number or write to the address listed on the government site in order to have them mailed to you. And trough internet is always a good way.