annual credit report scam

Is Annual Credit Report a Scam?

by Tim on April 20, 2012

We all like free things, right?  But if you’re like me, you probably wonder what’s the catch when you hear that something is free.

When it comes to financial products and services, there’s almost nothing that’s really free.  So when I hear commercials and websites offering free credit reports, and free credit scores, the first thing I do is to check with the FTC to make sure that it’s not a scam.

When it comes to checking your credit report (which is different than your credit score, you knew that I hope) there is only one site that I trust: AnnualCreditReport.com.  No, this isn’t an advertisement for them; it’s simply an unbiased review to explain why AnnualCreditReport.com isn’t a scam.

Is Annual Credit Report a Scam? annual credit report scam

Absolutely not, and I’ll explain why.  First, there are a lot of sites out there that claim to assist in providing your credit report.  While there may be some legitimate sites out there, AnnualCreditReport.com is the only one that is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.

From the FTC Website:

AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every 12 months. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, and yet couldn’t get it without paying fees or buying other services. TV ads, email offers, or online search results may tout “free” credit reports, but there is only one authorized source for a truly free credit report.


Who Controls AnnualCreditReport.com?

Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we all have annual access to our credit reports for free.  In fact, we can obtain one copy each year from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Since these bureaus are required by law to provide your free annual credit report, it made sense to have one central place to provide all three reports.  The three bureaus came together to create the joint venture company Central Source LLC, which controls the website AnnualCreditReport.com.  All phone, email and mailings from the site are controlled by these three credit bureaus under their joint company.

Rest assured that AnnualCreditReport.com is not a scam!

Your Credit Report is Always Free

Don’t fall for sites that try to get you to buy something in order to obtain a ‘free credit report.’  You can view your credit report in about 5 minutes from AnnualCreditReport.com.  You have the ability to download all three reports at once or to space it out through the year.  Some people pull one of the three reports every 4 months so that they have a rolling view of what’s happening with their credit.

Your Credit Score Isn’t Free on AnnualCreditReport.com

When you go through the site, you’ll notice that it will prompt you to buy your credit score.  You do not need to buy your credit score in order to view your report.  Your credit report is meant to show you the extended credit that is to your name.  Your credit score tells you and lenders how credit-worthy you are.

Check Your Credit Report, It’s the Smart Thing to Do!

Identity theft costs Americans billions of dollars each year.  Unfortunately, victims of identity theft usually have no idea about the fraud until months or even years down the road.  It’s most common to find out about fraud when you’re rejected for a car or home loan because of poor credit.

Wouldn’t it be nice to monitor what’s happening with your credit instead of paying ‘defense’ after someone steals your identity?

That’s why checking your credit report annually is so important.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Thad P @ thadthoughts.com April 20, 2012

Thanks for a very timely reminder. And free is even nicer!

Reply

William Wei April 20, 2012

This is such an informative article and very clearly written. Every single thought and idea is direct to the point. Perfectly laid out. Thank you for taking your time sharing this to you readers.
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caleb April 21, 2012

I used to do the every 4 months thing until we had suspisions that someone we knew was going to try to use our credit. I checked all 3 at once and will get back into the rotation next year. I also froze my credit.

How any why to do a freeze would be a good future article.

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Marie at FamilyMoneyValues April 22, 2012

I thought I heard somewhere that we can now actually get a free credit SCORE (as well as the report). Do you know if that is true?

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Jen @ Master the Art of Saving April 24, 2012

I’ve been using annualcreditreport.com for the last few years and I love them. It’s so nice to not have to pay to check my credit report or signup for silly trials. :-)

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Online Payment May 3, 2012

Excellent article about all related with AnnualCreditReport.com really interesting and you mention that is the only one endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission, this gives you much credibility.

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Read June 4, 2012

Something free, without a catch?! I don’t believe it :p

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stuff uk August 14, 2012

Personally I am sick to the back teeth of getting e-mails TELLING me to check my credit score. I dont have nor want credit, ergo I dont want to check my SCORE!!

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