When is FREE not FREE?

In a world seemingly driven in all matters by credit reports, getting that report for nothing ought to be a good thing,

But the commercial entities beat the federal government to the web address freecreditreport.com.

And they also got a better ad agency that wrote catchy tunes promoting their product, under the guise of free credit report.

But freecreditreport.com provides you a free credit report only if you surrender personal information, wait for it to come by snail-mail  and sign up for a monthly service billed to your credit card.

They bank on you not cancelling that subscription.

Cha ching!

It’s not really free.

There is a free credit report

The three big credit reporting agencies do provide a no-strings attached credit report to everyone, once a year.

Unfortunately, the URL doesn’t mention free, and doesn’t come with a catchy, banjo driven jingle;


But it does provide simple, and free, access to your credit file.

The right to know

Federal law enacted in 2003 gives everyone the right to request a free credit report each year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies:  Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

For nothing (that is: free) you can examine your credit report once every four months, if you request your free report sequentially from the CRA’s.

Repeat after me:  annualcreditreport.com.

What to do if you find errors

The Federal Trade Commission website walks you through how to challenge inaccurate information on your credit report.  They’ve even included a sample dispute letter.

ConsumerHelpCentral.com sorts out your remedies if the CRA doesn’t correct the information.

Sing the chorus

Here’s the game plan:

  • Click on www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Order a copy of your report from one agency
  • Look for errors and inaccuracies
  • Challenge bad information
  • Mark your calendar for 4 months to order a report from one of the other national CRA’s




Credit: Cathy Moran of Redwood City