Suze Orman advises, as of 2015, that consumers should only obtain free credit reports through annualcreditreport.com, the website administered by the Federal Trade Commission, or by calling the official FTC number. Each of the three major credit reporting companies are legally obliged to offer consumers one free credit report annually.
Since consumers can receive free annual reports from each of the three major credit reporting companies, they should space out the reports throughout the year, recommends Suze Orman. Although the three major credit reporting companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, must supply free annual credit reports, consumers should not attempt to request reports directly from the companies. The individual credit bureaus may attempt to sign up consumers for costly annual credit monitoring services.
Other financial sites use names and web address similar to annualcreditreport.com, so consumers need to be sure they use the precise FTC-authorized address, warns Suze Orman. When obtaining free credit reports, consumers should never give out credit card information or accept billing for costly extra services.
Periodically checking credit reports helps ensure protection against identity theft and allows consumers to monitor reports for inadvertent errors, notes Suze Ormon. The most efficient way to maintain ongoing vigilance of credit reports is to request credit reports from each of the three companies at four month intervals. If a consumer detects an error on one report and corrects it with the company, the credit bureau is obligated to pass the correction on to the other two credit reporting companies.