We have all seen those commercials where someone is stuck in a crappy job or has a crappy car or crappy apartment just because they have been a victim of identity theft. Those commercials make us all want to go out and get a copy of our credit reports just to make sure that hasn’t happened to us. Everyone advises that you need to know what is on your credit report in order to protect yourself from identity theft and to use that information to negotiate a better rate for a loan or credit card. But how do you do that and are they really free?
Good news, now they really are free. Well, at least once every year they are free since there is now a law stating that you are entitled to one free credit report a year. Yes, there is a site that gives you that one free credit report per year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. From there you will need to pick your state and put your personal information in. This site will not give you your score for free but you will be able to see your entire report. You can check your report and get a free copy once every year.
You are also entitled to a free credit report anytime you are turned down for credit. If you apply for credit (a loan, credit card, etc) and a receive a turn-down, you can write to the credit bureau. You need to let them know you were turned down for credit and are requesting a copy of your credit report. They will send your credit report to you for free. Again, most of them won’t have your credit score information, but everything else will be there.
Beware of any websites or offers that say you are getting a free report and ask for your credit card information. There will be some fine print that you will need to read. Usually, what they are is a 30-day trial offer of some sort and if you don’t call within the 30 days to cancel, they will charge your credit card. If you do sign up for these offers to get the free report, make sure you call and cancel. Always keep your confirmation number they give you when you cancel. Always make sure you read the fine print and if something seems not right, it probably isn’t.