A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
Although your credit score is generally not included in the free annual credit report that is available from the website annualcreditreport, they do state that you can purchase your credit score from any of the three credit reporting agencies by contacting them individually or you can purchase them from annualcreditreport when ordering your annual credit reports through their website. Either way you are paying a fee in order to obtain each reporting agency's valuation of your credit score.
What the website annualcreditreport does not tell you is that you are able to get your free credit score from each of the three agencies along with a free annual credit report by signing up with special programs being offered by the three agencies. These programs are connected with a monitoring service being offered by these agencies, and people who sign up for these programs are given a free credit report along with a no-cost credit score just for signing up during a no-cost 30 day trial period.
If you are ever dissatisfied with the service, you can cancel anytime within the 30 day period without incurring any service fees. This means that essentially you are able to obtain your free annual credit score along with the federally mandated annual free credit report by trying out their service. As long as you cancel the trial service within the 30 day period, you will not be charged any fees.
You must be careful though when signing up for one of these programs in order to obtain your free credit score as there are other companies, which may or may not be scrupulous, advertising these same services and benefits. If you are tempted to use one of these services in order to obtain your free credit score, keep in mind that many of these companies are not as interested in getting you your report as much as they are getting hold of your information. Just be aware that the company you are signing up with is one of these three agencies and not a separate company.
Why is it important to obtain your credit score along with your credit reports from all three reporting agencies? Because this gives you the opportunity to see the differences in credit scoring as well as to check through each credit report for erroneous items. If you can successfully dispute an item on a credit report, that item must by law be removed from your report, thus allowing your credit score to rise. The reporting agency is given 30 days to resolve disputed items. If an agency cannot successfully validate a disputed item, then the item must be removed from your report.
There are some occasions on which you are allowed to request a free credit report and score from the credit reporting agency used by a company. If you fall under any of the following categories, you are allowed to request to see the credit report if a company denies you credit, insurance, or employment (if this was a part of your employment application) provided you request a report within 60 days of this denial.
* You have been denied credit in the past 60 days
* You are unemployed
* You are on welfare
* You believe your credit report contains inaccurate and unverified information