Free Credit Reports and How to Use Them
The Federal Trade Commission has always had to listen to consumers complain. A few years back, those complaints rose to a roar when consumers who were responding to an ad for a free credit report found themselves enrolled in a monthly service. The FTC stepped in and amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require each of the three national consumer reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - to provide each consumer with a free credit report every 12 months.
There is only one site where you can take advantage of this truly free report and that is at www.annualcreditreport.com. There are other sites that will offer you free reports if you "try their services", but the one set up by the government is completely free - no strings attached. You can call, mail in a request, or fill out an online request to get your report.
Not everyone takes advantage of the free credit reports that are available to them. Some people don't want to take the time while others may not even know about the service. The only hitch to these free reports is that you have to take the time to request them.
The best way to use the free credit reports to track your history is to order one ever four months. You will stay up to date, and you will notice any unusual accounts that you didn't open. Because each company has to give you one free report every twelve months, you can spread out the reports between them and never have to pay.
Beware of the extras that they will offer you when they get ready to send you the free report. Each company wants to make money, so they will provide you with a chance to sign up for a credit score, a monthly service, or other amenities. It is not necessary to have any of these things to keep an eye on your credit history.
It might be a good idea to check out your credit score if you are planning to apply for any loans in the near future. Knowing any problems that you might have can allow you to prepare information to explain the situations surrounding the negative, or show how your financial situation has changed since that time. If you are worried about identity theft or have a spouse (or ex-spouse) that is wreaking havoc with your credit history, then it might be a good move to spend a little on the credit watch that is available.
There really are free credit reports available to you right now. The centralized annualcreditreport.com will give you the information that you need at a price anyone can afford.