Ditch Free Credit Report Fees
Free credit report sites with hidden fees are all too
common these days. We'll show you how to get a
real free credit report online.
In 2003, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) gave every consumer the right to view
their credit reports from each credit bureau for absolutely free. Since then, a host of “free credit report”
sites have popped up.
Most popular is freecreditreport.com, the one with the catchy jingle, that “monitors your credit and sends
you email alerts, so you don’t wind up selling fish to tourists in t-shirts.” Unfortunately, many consumers
have found out the hard way that credit reports at freecreditreport.com and similar sites aren’t so free
What’s a Credit Report?
Your credit report is a compilation of your credit accounts and related information like when the account
was opened, the account balance, and how timely your payments have been. Getting a credit report is
often the first step in credit repair and a good idea if you've been turned down for a credit card or a car
loan. Credit reports are maintained by credit reporting agencies a.k.a. credit bureaus.
There are three major credit bureaus in the United States – Equifax, Experian,
and TransUnion. Typically, consumers have a credit report at each of these
Whenever you make an application for credit, creditors and lenders look at
your credit report to decide whether to approve your application. If you have
negative information – high credit card balances and several late payments –
your application may be denied.
Creditors and lenders also evaluate you based on your credit score which is a
numerical snapshot of your credit report. Credit scores range from 300 to 850
where higher credit scores are better. The information in your credit report
directly influences your credit score.
History of the FACTA
The FACTA was added to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 2003 as a
result of the increased instances of identity theft. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) reported that in 2002, there were about 10 million victims
of identity theft.
Many cases of identity theft go undetected until a debt collection notice or
lawsuit summons shows up at the victim’s doorstep.
So, at the urging of consumer advocates, the government adopted the
FACTA, giving consumers free access to their credit reports and thereby
allowing them to detect identity theft sooner and at no cost.
Free Credit Report Scams
Since the FACTA was put into place, a number of websites have popped up
claiming to offer free credit reports, but suckering consumers into entering
their credit card information and subscribing to a credit monitoring service.
On blogs and message boards across the internet, consumers complain of recurring credit card charges
after ordering what they thought was a free credit report. Some can’t figure out how to cancel the
subscription and end up cancelling their credit cards to escape relentless charges to their cards.
These imposter sites do in fact provide a free credit report, but only after you sign up for a trial
membership to a credit monitoring service. Your free trial may last as short as a week or as long as a
month, but, in either case, if you don’t remember to cancel membership before the trial ends, you’ll get
In 2005, Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus and owner of freecreditreport.com, settled a
lawsuit with the FTC regarding “free” credit reports. The lawsuit claimed the bureau misled consumers
about entering credit card information for a free trial and about their association with the government’s
annual free credit report program. Experian ended up settling for $950,000.
Get Your REAL Free Credit Report for Free
The one and only place to order your government-granted free credit report at no obligation is through
www.annualcreditreport.com. There are more than 100 imposter websites, according to World Privacy
Forum, so you can easily be fooled. Annualcreditreport.com does not require you to sign up for any trial
service, nor does it request your credit card information.
To avoid scams, click the link above or type the web address directly into your internet browser, making
sure not to misspell it. Secure links can also be found at trusted sites like the FTC.
You can also order your annual credit report by telephone by calling 877-322-8228.
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