What are some characteristics of the best credit report sites?


Quick Answer

The best credit report sites are characterized by security, efficiency and a lack of extra offers and follow-up spam. According to the Federal Trade Commission, only the website set up by the three nationwide credit reporting companies, AnnualCreditReport.com, is authorized to provide the free yearly credit reports mandated by the federal government. Extra credit reports should be bought from the websites of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three main companies.

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Full Answer

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies every 12 months. These reports can be ordered all at once or staggered throughout the year. Additional free reports are given under extraordinary circumstances, such as being unemployed or on welfare, indications of identity theft or other fraud, the correction of inaccuracies in a credit report, or a denied application for insurance or credit. Only the credit report is free, but if consumers also want their specific FICO credit score, it can be purchased from the same site that gives the credit report.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that many spurious websites claim to offer free credit reports but afterwards bill consumers for extra services, sell other products to consumers or try to collect personal information. Pop-up ads, follow-up emails or phone calls are indications of scams and should be reported to the FTC.

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