The national credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have a website called AnnualCreditReport.com where consumers can order free annual credit reports. Free reports can also be ordered by phone or mail. Extra credit reports are obtainable for a fee from the individual credit reporting companies.
Federal law mandates that the three major credit reporting companies each supply every adult American with a free credit report annually, and AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website authorized to provide them. Consumers can order all three reports at once or space them out throughout the year. Ordering simultaneous reports allows consumers to more easily check for errors, while spacing out the reports allows them to monitor the reports more often. Filling out one online form is sufficient to order all three reports. After completing the form, consumers must answer a series of personal questions to confirm their identities.
According to federal law, consumers are entitled to additional free credit reports if companies deny them credit or employment, their report is erroneous because of identity theft or fraud, or they are on welfare or unemployed. The Federal Trade Commission cautions consumers to beware of other websites that offer supposedly free credit reports, as often hidden costs are included. The free credit report does not include a credit score, which consumers can order for a fee from FICO or one of the three credit reporting companies.