According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), every individual in America is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In other words, you can get 3 free credit reports a year; one from Equifax, one from Experian, and one from TransUnion. You may order these reports all at the same time or you can spread it out over a period of time, like getting one every four months. If you have problematic credit and are working to re-establish a good credit rating, you might want to order your credit reports space out over a few months to see how your credit is improving. Any report that you order after the initial free reports within a 12-month period may cost you up to around $ 11.00.
There is only one website that is authorized to fill your order for the free annual credit report you are entitled to- annualcreditreport.com. All other websites that offer “free credit reports,” or “free credit scores” are not part of the free annual credit report program and usually offer these “free” reports in exchange for a service, like credit monitoring, that you have to pay for. Or sometimes they will offer a free service that will convert to one you have to pay for after a trial period, and if you don’t cancel the service within that trial period you may be subject to charges and fees.
Unlike your credit reports, there is no free way to get your credit score. You can order your credit score from any of the three major credit reporting agencies when you order your free credit report, however, they will charge you a fee for it. There is still some confusion on how much these credit scores actually cost to order, but most agree they are in the range of $ 8 – $ 16. You can also get your credit score by purchasing it directly from FICO, the Fair Isaac Corporation- this is the company that basically invented the standard format for determining the credit ratings used today. Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that, in essence, represents your creditworthiness. A credit score is based primarily on information from your credit report and will usually differ between each of the three credit reporting agencies.
It is noteworthy to mention that the FCRA specifies that others can access your credit report. Creditors, insurers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, or renting a home, all have legal rights to access your credit report. Your employer can get a copy of your credit report as well, but only if you agree. A consumer reporting company may not provide information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your written consent.
If you still have questions about your credit report or credit score, there are countless sites on the internet that you can find using Google, or any other search engine, that can help to answer your questions. One notable site which offers facts to consumers is the Federal Trade Commission website at ftc.gov.
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