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Are credit card companies increasingly providing access to free credit reports?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question: Are credit card companies increasingly providing access to free credit reports?

Answer: I am not aware of any move on any credit card company's part to provide a free credit report. In fact, I am aware of only one resource available to consumers to get a free report on a routine basis. Under the law, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion each offer a free federal credit report through annualcreditreport.com. There is also a toll-free phone number if you don't have access to the Internet--1-877-322-8228--or you can write to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You should be clear that this service provides your credit report only. You must pay for your credit score.

As for getting your credit report free from any other source, be aware there may be a catch involved. An exception is when you apply for credit and are turned down. In that case, you will receive a letter from the lender denying your application, and in that letter you will be offered a free copy of your report from the reporting agency. That offer is for a limited time, usually within sixty days. The other exception is when you are a victim of fraud; then you can also request and obtain a free copy.

It's also possible that a credit card company is offering you your report as part of a promotion for credit card insurance or to apply for their card, but other than the two scenarios mentioned above, the only other way I know of for you to obtain a copy of your credit report generated by your own request is by paying for it.

When you pull up your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com, I recommend you print it out immediately. Once you leave the Web site, your free annual report is unavailable for another year; however, since you are entitled to one free copy from each of the three bureaus, you might consider getting a different one every four months. This way you always have at least one new report nearly all the time.

As a final note, when you get your credit report, be sure to look closely for errors and get them corrected, as they could be negatively affecting your credit score.

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