While you may have heard of many advertisements and websites offering “free” credit reports, remember that the ONLY truly free site is the one mandated by the FTC – AnnualCreditReport.com
As some background this site was created back in 2003 by the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to fulfill their obligations under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). This website allows US based consumers to receive up to (1) free credit reports per 12 month period from each of the (3) agencies, for a total of (3) credit reports per year.
Since the (3) agencies limit you to (1) report per 12 month period, I usually recommend getting (1) report every 4 months, and “rotating” through the 3 agencies, in alphabetical order to eliminate choosing the wrong agency, as follows:
Jan. 1st – Equifax
May 1st – Experian
Sep. 1st – Transunion
There should be absolutely NO NEED for ANY credit card for a truly free credit report. (If the site you’re visiting needs payment info, then it isn’t free!) I recommend checking once every 4 months at / around the suggested times. It will help:
– make sure that the credit agencies have accurate info, with time to fix the credit report if inaccuracies are found
– make sure no new credit lines have been opened without your permission, helping catch identify theft sooner rather than later!