There are three nationwide credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each of these companies provide you, upon request, at one free copy of your credit report every twelve months. The Federal Trade Commission enforces FCRA. You can find the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
In an effort to comply with the law while protecting their bottom line, the three credit reporting agencies have set up a central clearinghouse from which you can request your credit reports. The website is located at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can contact the effort by phone at 877-322-8228. This is the only website endorsed by the three companies and backed by the FTC. Other sites that profess to offer “free” credit reports are fraudulent. You should submit those sites and any emails you receive professing to provide “free” credit reports to email@example.com.
If you want to contact each of the companies separately, which you will want to do if there is incorrect information on your credit report, here are the contact numbers:
Equifax: 800-685-1111 www.equifax.com
Experian: 888-397-3742 www.experian.com
TransUnion: 800-916-8800 www.transunion.com
Certain states have passed laws providing that free credit reports must be available to the individual upon request, without limiting the availability to one per year.
You credit score will not always be provided with your credit report. When I went through the www.annaulcreditreport.com process, I received my free credit report, but when I clicked on the link for my score, I had to pay an additional $6. I paid it and was provided with a screen where I could print my score. While it isn’t free, it’s not an unreasonable charge.
If you want to check your credit report and/or credit score, I highly recommend that you follow the Federal Trade Commission’s suggestion and use www.annualcreditreport.com (I’m not affiliated in any way with the website, so I’m not trying to push it on you for personal gain). As it is regulated by the FTC and is a transparent cooperative effort of all three of the national credit reporting agencies, it’s the safest and most trustworthy source for this important information.