There are number of ways to go about checking your consumer credit today, some for free and some with a significant price tag attached to it. How and how often you think you will be need to be checking your credit will likely determine which course you take.
Thanks to federal legislation, a free credit report, covering all three major agencies, can be used for checking consumer credit once a year. This can be done by visiting a single Web site. All three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are now required by law to give consumers access to their credit reports for free once a year. By going to annualcreditreport.com, consumers can see what their credit report holds. All three reports can be different, so receiving all three is important to make sure your credit has not been adversely affected in a way that was picked up by one credit agency and missed by others.
The process of using the free report for checking consumer credit can also be started by telephone. It can also be obtained by telephone by dialing a toll-free number. If the consumer calls 1-877-322-8228, they can receive the same credit reports they would receive online. Another method is to obtain it by mail. If the consumer contacts the Federal Trade Commission, they can obtain an Annual Credit Report Request brochure, which they can fill out and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA. 30348-5281. The process will end in receipt of the same three credit reports, but will take several weeks to receive.
There are a number of other sites or companies that offer other methods of checking consuimer credit, but many are not telling the complete story. Many companies that offer their service as a way how to get free credit report neglect to mention that they will only allow the consumer to receive one of the three credit reports for free, and access to the others will cost them a fee. Others allow access to all three credit reports only after the consumer signs up for a “credit monitoring” service, which can cost $80 or more a year.