How to Get a Truly Free Credit Report

freeSome companies advertise “free” credit reports that aren’t exactly free. Here’s how to get a credit report at no cost, with no strings attached.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) gives everyone the right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. But that doesn’t mean every company offering credit reports is giving them away. All too often, the “free” report involves signing up for a paid service, like credit monitoring. You may be able to cancel the add-on service during a free trial period, but that’s a hassle. So where can you get a free credit report with no ifs, ands, or buts?

Go Straight to the Source

The three major credit bureaus — EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion — teamed up and formed Central Source LLC, a joint venture that provides one-stop access to free FACTA credit reports. To view and download your truly free credit reports, just visit:

You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and recent address history. Also, be prepared to answer a few multiple-choice identity verification questions that are based upon your credit history.

Prefer to get your free credit reports the old-fashioned way? You can fill out a simple one-page form and mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta GA  30348-5281

If you’d rather order your free reports by phone, call 877.322.8228. (Yes, the call is free too.)

Other Free Options

FACTA isn’t the only way to get a credit report that’s really free. Federal law also gives you the right to order a free report if:

  • a lender, employer, or insurance company turned you down due to something in your credit report;
  • you’re unemployed and will be looking for work in the next 60 days;
  • you receive public assistance benefits; or
  • your credit report contains incorrect information due to fraud.

If any of these situations applies to you, and you’d like to obtain a non-FACTA free report, contact each credit bureau directly with your request.

Matt Conrad is an Indianapolis bankruptcy attorney and the founder of Conrad Legal LLC, which helps people in Central Indiana get out of debt with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

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