Most people these days are at least somewhat aware of the recent law passed by Congress (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, also called FACTA or the FACT Act) that allows each consumer to obtain one free credit report once a year from each of the big three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Perhaps most people, however, don’t exactly know where to obtain those reports.
The website to obtain your free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies is annualcreditreport.com. I did it recently, and checked all three of my reports. The site didn’t work flawlessly, but it wasn’t a major hassle either. I got my reports for free. If you want your credit scores, you have to pay a fee (approx. $6-10) for them or join a service offered by the credit reporting agency (and you then have the option to cancel within 30 days for no charge).
Some choose to obtain one free credit report every four months or so. This makes sense if you are willing to take the time to do that.
But I digress. Taking advantage of the American public’s vague knowledge of entitlement to a free credit report, FreeCreditReport.com, a subsidiary of Experian, has been doing a lot of television advertising lately. If you watch much tv, you’ve probably seen their commercial. Their commercial gives the impression that you can obtain your free credit report through their site.
Technically you can, but you’d have to purchase their credit monitoring service and then cancel it within the 30 day trial period. The point of the website is to get you to purchase this credit monitoring service, called Triple Advantage, for $12.95 a month. Now, credit monitoring services can be a good thing for those who want the peace of mind and can afford to pay for it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just wrong to trick people into purchasing it when all they want is the credit report guaranteed to them by Federal law.
To be fair, the site does explain how to obtain your truly free report from annualcreditreport.com. But, not surprisingly, it’s sort of fine print. Be warned.