How to Get Your Free Credit Report
February 14, 2006
By: Curtis Arnold
On December 4th, 2003, President Bush signed into law the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT), a law that updates the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This law will allow all consumers to obtain an annual free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs).
Please Note! You are not entitled to a free credit score under the new law (the law only entitles you to a free copy of your credit report). However, our credit report offer is a great way to obtain your credit score(s) for free. We strongly suggest that you obtain your credit score on a regular basis and that you know your credit score before you apply for any type of new credit (since interest rates on credit cards and other loans vary based on your score).
Eligibility for an annual free credit report was determined by your state of residence based on the following rollout schedule set by federal law:
- Western States: December 1, 2004
- Midwest States: March 1, 2005
- Southern States: June 1, 2005
- Eastern States & all U.S. Territories: September 1, 2005
More information and all three free credit reports can be obtained by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
By Federal law, based on your rights as described in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to one free credit report per year directly from a credit reporting agency if you certify that you are unemployed and intend to apply for unemployment the next 60 days, you are receiving public welfare assistance, or you believe there are inaccuracies in your report due to fraud. Also, if you have been denied credit, employment, or insurance within the past 60 days based on information in a credit report, you are entitled to a free copy of your report from the credit bureau that supplied the credit report.
Finally, residents of a few states are entitled to a free annual copy of their credit report (based on state law). Residents of Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine and Vermont are entitled by state law to one free report from a credit reporting agency per year. Residents of Georgia are entitled to two.
Please be very careful that you only order your free credit reports online from AnnualCreditReport.com, the official website established by the federal government. There are many phony websites that are attempting to confuse consumers.
About the Author
Curtis Arnold, a nationally recognized consumer educator and advocate, has been educating consumers about credit cards since 1998. New! Curtis is the author of "How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line" (FT Press, 2008). He is also the co-author of the upcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending (Alpha Books/Pengiun Group USA, April 2009), a contribitor to The Ultimate Allowance (InnerWealth Publishing, 2008) and is extensively featured in 42 RulesTM for Driving Success With Books (Super Star Press, January 2009).