Consumers can see their credit reports by accessing them online through AnnualCreditReport.com or by ordering them via the phone number or mailing address provided on the site, reports Bankrate. Alternatively, each of the three major credit bureaus provides individual reports.
Since the passing of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act in 2003, every American has the right to a free credit report annually from the credit agencies of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, as stated by Bankrate. Consumers can order the reports one by one at various times or request all three reports simultaneously.
Although credit reports are obtainable through the individual websites of the three credit bureaus, these websites charge a fee. Credit reports ordered online are available immediately, while those ordered by phone or mail take about two weeks to arrive, says the Federal Trade Commission.
The AnnualCreditReport.com website is the only federally authorized source of free credit reports, according to the FTC. Some sites purportedly offer free credit reports but begin charging fees after a trial period. Other imposter sites have Web addresses similar to the authorized site, deliberately misleading consumers in order to collect personal information and credit card numbers. The authorized credit bureaus do not send emails, phone calls or pop-up ads offering credit reporting services, so any such offers are most likely scams.