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How to Safely Get a Free Credit Report

  • You can safely get a free credit report from all three credit bureaus using AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • There is no need to pay for a credit report since you have access to the same information for free.
  • It’s important to periodically check your credit reports to look for errors or signs of identity theft.

Accessing your credit report is crucial if you want to know what is actually listed in your credit file, and if you want to find errors or early signs of identity theft. Fortunately, you can get a free credit report from the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — without ever leaving your home.

If you are ready to look over your credit profile and you want to know the best way to go about it safely and for free, read on to learn more.

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What’s the best site to get a free credit report?

The best site to get a free credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com.

This website is supported by government agencies and authorized by Federal law to provide you with free credit reports on a regular basis.

Not only is AnnualCreditReport.com free to use and secured through advanced encryption technology, but this site lets you get a copy of each of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

While there were once stricter limits on how often a consumer could use this site to get a free copy of their credit reports, AnnualCreditReport.com has allowed weekly access with all three credit bureaus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Text Tip
: While you can get a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, this website doesn’t let you take a look at whether you have a good or bad credit score. If you want to see your actual credit score, which is an important factor that represents your overall financial health, you should check your credit score out on sites like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma, Capital One CreditWise, and Chase Credit Journey.

Is AnnualCreditReport.com safe to use?

The AnnualCreditReport.com website is secured through encryption. This means you can safely and securely get a free report from each of the credit bureaus through this website, which you can opt to save on your computer, print at home, or receive in the regular mail.

Also keep in mind that, when it comes to your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies, you have rights through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).


For example, the FCRA gives you the legal right to:

Important: While AnnualCreditReport.com is a safe and secure portal for getting a free credit report, you should note that individual credit bureaus have the right to sell your data for promotional purposes.? You can opt out of receiving prescreened credit offers by calling 1-888-567-8688.

Do other places offer free credit reports?

There are some other sources you can use to get a free credit report, including your bank. However, some “free credit reports” aren’t actually free, and you have to be careful to avoid using websites that might aim to steal your identity or cause you financial harm.

The AnnualCreditReport.com website even says the following:

“Don’t be fooled by look-alike sites. You can be sure that you are on the right site if you type www.AnnualCreditReport.com in your browser address line. Don’t come to this site by clicking on a link in another site or in an email.”

How to get a free credit report

If you want to get a free TransUnion credit report or a similar report from Experian or Equifax, there are a handful of steps you can take to expedite the process.

1. Head to the AnnualCreditReport.com website.

Head directly to the AnnualCreditReport.com website to start the process. You can also verify you’re using the right website by clicking through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website first.

Keep in mind that you can access your credit reports from all three credit bureaus once per week for free. This means you can get a report from all three bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every time, or you can just access them one at a time over the course of a year.

2. Decide how you want to receive your report

Determine how exactly you want to receive your credit reports, and note that you have a few different options at your disposal:

3. Enter your personal information

Prepare yourself to offer a range of personal information about your identity, including your full name, date of birth, mailing address, Social Security number (SSN), current address, and previous addresses.

4. Answer security questions

AnnualCreditReport.com will also ask you some very detailed security questions in order to verify your identity. These questions can be on nearly any type of information that pertains to your past, from a school you once attended to a car you drove.

5. View your credit reports

Once you answer all the required questions to verify who you are, you can view your credit reports online or receive them in the mail. Once you have access to this information, you should take the time to read over your credit reports with all three bureaus from beginning to end.

Make sure to check for common credit reporting errors, which could include incorrect balances, incorrect payment information, or credit accounts listed more than once.

If you notice credit accounts on your reports that are not yours, they could easily be an early sign of identity theft.

In any case, you’ll want to take steps to dispute any false information on your credit reports so the credit bureaus can remove it and update your file.

Are all credit reports free?

While other websites and even the credit bureaus themselves make it possible to see your credit reports for free, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says you should “be cautious” of websites that claim to offer free reports from the national bureaus.

“Some of these websites will only give you a free report if you buy other products or services,” they write. Not only that, but other websites “give you a free report and then bill you for services you have to cancel.”

Text Tip: While each consumer could normally get a free credit report once per year, AnnualCreditReport.com has let consumers access weekly free reports since the beginning of the pandemic, and will continue to until December of 2023.

Should I pay for a credit report?

Since AnnualCreditReport.com is offering free credit reports on a weekly basis, there’s no reason to pay for this information. The fact is, you can get your Experian credit report, as well as your Equifax and TransUnion reports, without paying a dime.

Are free credit reports the same as the ones lenders use?

The good news about the credit reports you get through AnnualCreditReport.com is that they list the exact same information a lender or creditor sees if they check your credit.

This means you have the option to see all your information laid bare, including all credit accounts you have, all balances you owe, your payment history, and more.

Should I get all my free credit reports at once?

Because each of your reports can list different information, it’s crucial to check them from each of the credit reporting agencies throughout the year.

You can opt to check all of them at once just to make sure nothing seems “off,” but you can also check one of your reports every few weeks or months in order to find errors quickly.

How often should I check my credit reports?

At the bare minimum, you should check your credit reports once every quarter or every three months. This is often enough that you should be able to fix reporting errors or spot early signs of fraud before they make a significant impact.

Which free credit report is best to request?

If you’re wondering which credit reporting company you should get a report from first, that really depends on your individual circumstances.

For example, you could easily have more reporting on one of your reports than the others, and it all depends on which credit bureau lenders and other creditors you have worked with.

Ultimately, this is why you need to check your report with each credit reporting company throughout the year. Checking your credit reports results in a soft pull on your credit history, but does not hurt or raise your credit score.

The information can be slightly different on each one, and all of your reports are equally vulnerable to errors.

Tips for safely getting a free credit report online

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), each consumer is legally entitled to receive a free copy of their credit reports.

The tips below can make this process as safe and convenient as possible:

Free credit report FAQ

How many free credit reports can you request each year?

At least for now, AnnualCreditReport.com is letting consumers get a free report from each credit bureau on a weekly basis.

Does checking your credit report hurt your credit score?

Checking your credit reports results in a soft pull on your credit history. This does not impact your credit score with FICO or VantageScore.

Which credit report is most accurate?

Each credit report has its own unique data, mainly because an individual lender might opt to report to one of the credit bureaus and not the others. With that in mind, each credit report a consumer has could be accurate — even if they feature different information.

Is a free credit report the same one lenders see?

Free credit reports provide a listing of your actual credit information, and they are the same ones lenders see.

What is the FCRA?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that aims to protect the privacy of individuals when it comes to their credit reports and information. The law also helps ensure accuracy on each report, and it gives consumers specific legal rights when it comes to their credit.

Is FreeCreditReport.com safe and actually free?

The website FreeCreditReport.com offers your Experian credit report and your FICO score for free, but you should read over the fine print before you sign up.

While you may get your credit report for free using this site, it automatically enrolls you in Experian’s credit monitoring program for a fee.

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About the Author

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Finance Expert

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade.

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.

* Opinions expressed here are those of the LA Times Compare Cards Team and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser or entities included within this content. See our editorial policy for more details.

All products or services are presented in this content without warranty. The information, including card details such as rates and fees, is accurate at the time of publish. Please visit each bank's website directly for the most current information.

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