How to get a Free Credit Report

Have you reviewed your credit report lately? You probably have not checked it for some time now. According to a 2014 Financial Literacy Survey by National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 65% of American citizens had not asked for their credit report in a year, even though they can get a free annual copy from AnnualCreditReport.com. That is not wise because errors on your credit report that go undetected could cost you points and lead to loan denials or very high interest rates should you be approved for a loan or credit card.

There are several ways through which a consumer can check their credit report or various versions of the credit score for free. The first step, however, is knowing what is on the report. A credit report has different objectives from a credit score, according to Gail Cunningham, a National Foundation for Credit Counseling spokesperson. She says that a credit report is a record of your past and present financial activity.

It offers a summary of who you are financially. The information in a credit report includes your past and present residence, bill payment history, financial judgments against you, monthly payment and balance of your credit accounts, and the age of the accounts. A credit score, on the other hand, is a numerical representation of your credit report information. Lenders use it to evaluate risk and it strongly determines whether you will be extended credit. Your credit score ranges from 300 to 850.

It was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and is used to determine whether you will pay your bills on time. You have two credit scores: a FICO educational score (consumer score) and a FICO score. Lenders and creditors use the FICO score while the consumer score is the one that consumers can get in several ways. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act requires that all Americans be given free access to their credit reports from the three bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) once every year.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the easiest site from which to get these reports. You also get access to a free report if you are denied credit, are a victim of identity theft or fraud, or your current credit has changed. The law does not require any institution to give you free access to your credit score and you cannot get it from AnnualCreditReport.com free of charge. You can buy your FICO score but there are ways to view your score for free.

A score report costs $19.95 on MyFICO.com. You can also buy the consumer version from any of the credit bureaus (the number could be higher than your FICO score). The lending process can be confusing because the digit that the lender uses may be different from what you see. It is, therefore, advisable to buy the FICO score. 

These are the best sites to view your FICO consumer version score:

  • Creditkarma.com
  • CreditSesame.com
  • Credit.com
  • Quizzle.com

You can check as many times as you want. The numbers are usually higher than the actual FICO score that lenders and banks will see. Although the consumer credit scores vary from FICO scores, you can assess your credit health or catch fraud attempts by reviewing them.

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