Everyone should periodically review a copy of their credit report to look for errors and evidence of suspicious activity that could be related to identity theft. There are several methods for obtaining a copy of your credit report, but few are free and some may not be trustworthy.
If you watch television or listen to the radio, you have undoubtedly heard ads for numerous companies that offer a free copy of your credit report. The problem with almost all of these methods is that you have to sign up for expensive credit protection programs in order to obtain the free copy of your report.
While the report itself may be free, obtaining it is not totally free if you use these methods. Another concern is the fact that in order to obtain the report, you are required to share very personal financial information with a company that you probably are not very familiar with. Give the high rate of identity theft in the USA, you need to ask yourself if this is a smart thing to do.
The US Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide each US citizen with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. You do have to request the report. It is not sent automatically. There is only one online source to obtain this information, which is AnnualCreditReport.com. Be aware that there are a number of web sites whose names are very similar to this, but there is only one legitimate online source for your free credit report as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can verify this as the only authorized source through the Federal Trade Commission web site page regarding free credit reports.
The three nationwide consumer reporting agencies that compile personal financial information about you from bank loans, credit card companies and numerous databases and public sources are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The AnnualCreditReport.com site is sponsored by these three credit reporting agencies.
This information covers residents of the United States. A similar method for obtaining a credit report might also be available to to Canadians, but they would not be covered by USA laws.