Free Credit Report and Credit Score

Credit Rating Grade imageDid you know that, as an American consumer, you qualify to receive one free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies? You do not need to sign up for any type of service to receive your free reports. Federal law requires that each of the three credit recording agencies provides consumers with a free copy of their credit histories once per year.

Your free reports will show your identifying information, your payment history and any judgments or collections that have been filed against you. However, your credit reports do not automatically include a credit score.

How to Receive Your Free Credit Reports

Request Reports Online

To expedite the process, all three agencies have collaborated to form AnnualCreditReport.com. Using this service, you can complete an online form, verify your information and then access all three of your reports at one time from the site. You can save the reports in PDF format for future reference, too. The site is easy to use and does not require that you enter any payment information to obtain your free reports.

Request Reports by Phone

If you are not comfortable with accessing your credit reports online, you can call the company and they will verify your information over the phone. Once your identity is verified, the company will mail your reports to you. The phone number to request your free yearly reports is 1-877-322-8228.

Request Reports by Mail

You also have the option of requesting your three free reports by submitting a request form. Download the request form from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/requestformfinal.pdf. Complete the form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

When you request your free annual credit reports, you are given the opportunity to purchase your FICO score along with each report for a small fee.

What is a Credit Score?

The credit score that is most often used by lenders is the FICO score. Many credit monitoring services offer a free credit score during a free trial period for their subscriptions. However, many times these scores are not the FICO score. Other credit scores are sometimes used by lenders, the FICO score is the industry standard. If you apply for a mortgage loan, the lender will likely obtain all three of your FICO scores. For auto loans, the lender may accept just one FICO score from only one of the credit bureaus.

How to Receive a Free Credit Score

There are a few ways that you can obtain a free credit score in addition to copies of your credit report. MyFico.com offers several levels of credit monitoring subscriptions. When you sign up with MyFico.com, you get a free 10 day trial for their service. During the trial period, you receive free access to your actual FICO score. The trial also includes MyFico’s Score Watch service. During the trial period, if your FICO score changes, you get an alert from MyFico. Remember that you must either cancel your subscription during the 10-day trial, or agree to subscribe to the service for $14.95 per month.  There are numerous other credit report websites including freecreditscore.com, creditscore123.com, privacyguard.com and many more.

FreeScoreOnline.com, owned by ScoreSense, is another credit monitoring service. FreeScoreOnline.com provides your actual FICO scores from all three credit bureaus during their trial period. Your scores are accessed within seconds using their online dashboard. However, remember to cancel the subscription before the trial period ends if you do not wish to subscribe to the service.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies provide credit monitoring services. However, not all provide you with a FICO score during trial memberships, or even through non-trial subscriptions. Be sure to research free offers and paid subscriptions so you know exactly what you are getting when you apply. Find out the services offered by the three credit bureaus by visiting their respective websites at:

Experian
www.experian.com

TransUnion
www.transunion.com

Equifax
www.equifax.com

Many other services provide free access to your FICO score during a trial period. However, many services simply offer your free “credit score.” If you intend to make a major purchase, or your goal is to repair damaged credit, you should seek out the services that provide your actual FICO score. If you just want to find out your credit score, you can see our top 10 credit report sites list to help you make an informed decision.