If you have a TV, you’ve seen the commercial and heard the song in its many variations. Some people hate it, some love it (I do, I confess) but what’s worse is that many people probably assume it’s where you go to get your free annual credit report. I know, I know, if you can’t trust a scruffy, down-on-his-luck waiter singing in a Pirate costume, who can you trust?
Well, you can trust him to check your credit, but you’re going to have to pay $14.95 a month if you forget to cancel your trial offer enrollment in their credit monitoring program. If you want a truly free credit report, you’ll have to remember–on your own and without a catchy jingle–to go to AnnualCreditReport.com. The Federal Trade Commission wants you to know that this “the authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law.” Free reports are available from all three credit reporting agencies once every 12 months.
To use the free Annual Credit Report site, simply select your state from the menu and click on “Request Report.” You will then be asked to provide some personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. You’ll also need to enter the word/numbers you see in the box at the bottom to verify that you are indeed a person and not a malicious computer. The next screen will ask you to verify some information about your credit, and from there it will direct you on how to view your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The site can be a little confusing, so read the directions carefully and make sure to write down or remember any logins and passwords you might create for the various credit agencies. You can also request a report by phone or email.