Check Your Annual Credit Report, August 2010 Edition

by Kevin on August 2, 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve posted one of these reminders up. Every few months I put up a reminder for my readers — we’re all forgetful, right?

Check Your Annual Credit Report for Free

There is only one way to say it. The only way to check your report for absolutely free is to go to the government mandated website: Annual Credit Report.com.

The other methods you hear on the radio, see on television, and seem to be all over the internet are not free. They are backed my large organizations that are trying to sap money from you on a monthly basis. (More on that in a minute.)

No, the only way is to go to AnnualCreditReport.com.

I use the following strategy since I am married:

  • Determine how many free checks you can get per year
    • For me: Three bureaus checked individually multiplied by you and your spouse = 6
  • Space out those free report checks throughout the year
    • For me: 12 months in a year divided by 6 free checks = every 2 months
  • Check 1 report today, schedule the rest on a calendar. (Just remember to swap whose report gets checked. Also rotate which bureau you check from.)
    • For me: If I check my TransUnion report today, I would check my wife’s Equifax or Experian report at the beginning of October.

If you are single then the number of free annual credit report checks you get will drop to 3 (one from each bureau). Schedule them accordingly.

Always remember to check only one report each time you log in. The website makes it easy to check all three when you first login. Don’t do that, or you will have to wait 365 days to check your reports again.

Don’t Buy Marketing Lies

Again, you will hear, read, and watch advertisements touting the availability of your free credit reports or free credit scores. If the website isn’t AnnualCreditReport.com then it isn’t truly free.

Most of these other websites are owned or backed by large corporations. Even one of the credit bureaus backs a very prominent website (the one with the annoying TV and radio jingles). Backed by the credit bureau! Genius.

The websites do technically allow you to get your report for free, but to get it you have to give up your credit card information and sign up for a free trial of a credit monitoring service that is offered. Usually the charge for the monitoring is the $14.99 to $19.99 per month range.

Of course you sign up for a “trial” of the monitoring, but suddenly discover canceling can be difficult and your credit card may end up charged on accident.

Now imagine millions of people signing up for trials at $14.99 to $19.99 per month. Now imagine that a chunk of that population doesn’t know up from down with their personal finances. They don’t have a budget. They don’t know where money is going. They hardly notice the rise in the minimum payment on their credit card.

And the companies just soak up all that cash…

Don’t do it. Always use the government mandated website to get your free report. You are entitled to one free report per bureau per year. That’s one report from three bureaus each year.

{ 2 comments }

Richard Golko August 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

You are right; you rarely need more than 3 credit reports per year anyway. Why add to your expenditures when you are working on getting out of debt anyway?

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Great reminder since I was supposed to do this 3 weeks ago…time to check my Experian report…

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