Consumers can order their free yearly credit reports and buy their credit scores online at AnnualCreditReport.com, through the toll-free phone number 877-322-8228, or by mailing the Annual Credit Report Request Form to the address provided on the website, explains the Federal Trade Commission. They can also obtain their credit scores from credit card companies, banks, the Fair Isaac Corporation and numerous websites, states Bankrate.
Although federal law stipulates that the three major credit reporting companies must provide consumers with copies of their annual credit reports for free, the law permits them to charge a fee for credit scores, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Credit scores are compilations of points based on numerous financial factors that assess the creditworthiness of a consumer. Credit reporting companies calculate the scores based on information in credit reports, such as bill payment history, accumulated debt, longevity of credit, new credit applications and the type of credit accounts that consumers have.
Although the Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO, credit score is most popular, there are a number of credit scoring systems based on various ranges of numbers, notes Bankrate. Lenders evaluating credit scores sometimes do not identify the source of the scores to consumers. Improving credit scores involves monitoring credit reports for accuracy, paying bills on time, paying off old debts and avoiding new debt, advises the Federal Trade Commission.