The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its subsequent amendment the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) are pieces of federal legislation that governs the collection, organization and distribution of credit-related information. Their intentions are to both protect and educate consumers in areas regarding their credit history and profile.
Under this law, consumers can request a free copy of their bureau credit report every 12 months. This must be done at the government sanctioned website found at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Three reports are available to consumers. They come from the three main credit reporting agencies in the United States: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Equifax is the largest and TransUnion is the smallest. Consumers are entitled to each bureau report every 12 months. The reports do not have to be requested all at once. Many people spread out the requests to one each quarter.
FCRA does not provide consumers with a free glimpse at their bureau credit or FICO scores. Bureau scores can be purchased separately on the website for a nominal fee. Should consumers desire more credit reports outside of this government offer, they can either pay any of the bureaus for additional copies or they can look for online deals.
There are plenty of websites that offer free credit reports and scores when users sign-up for a free trial membership into a credit monitoring service. The monitoring service can be a useful tool for those that want to be regularly updated on the activities of their bureau credit files. There usually is no obligation to keep the service and membership can be canceled anytime, even during the free trial period.