AnnualCreditReport.com: The Definitive Guide
Residents of all 50 of the united states are now eligible to view all 3 free credit reports once per year, at a government mandated central location – AnnualCreditReport.com.
But do you know exactly how it works, and what you actually get for free? Is your free credit score included? How to avoid getting fooled by imitations? Those are just some of the things I’d like to cover here…
First thing’s first, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to start your session.
This should cost nothing, and they will never ask for your credit card information in order to view your free reports.
This is very important to keep in mind, so you aren’t duped into some sort of unwanted credit monitoring service free trial at another website masquerading as the real AnnualCreditReport.com (yes they do exist, more on that later).
Once you’re there, start your session by selecting your state from the drop down, then click “Request Report” (as pictured below).
After that is done, you will proceed to the second page where they will collect your personal information, as pictured below.
This site requires you to enter information such as your full name, date of birth, social security number, current address, and previous address if you’ve lived at your current address for less than 2 years.
I’m sure some these required fields is part their effort to ensure that this is YOU accessing your own credit report, and not someone else trying to spy on your credit history.
This information is transmitted over a secure connection for our safety. Fill out this form and click “Continue” at the bottom.
Accessing your free credit reports
On the next page you will be able to choose which of the three credit reports you want to view. You can choose just one, two, or all three. I usually like to view all three at once, but there are other options such as viewing just one now, then waiting 4 months to view another, and finally viewing the third 4 months after that, then repeat after it’s been 12 months since you accessed the first one. People who do this feel like they are monitoring their reports more closely than viewing all 3 at once. I prefer viewing all 3 once a year so I can compare them. To each his own. What you choose to do is completely up to you. But you must select at least one, then click “Next” to proceed to the credit bureau’s website to view your report. See the picture below.
After you have selected which of the 3 credit reports you want to view, you will be taken to each site (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) one at a time, where you are able to view your full credit report for free, from that site. At that point, you may be asked to again confirm your identity by entering the last 4 digits of your social security number, or it could possibly be some other question. Also keep in mind that at each individual website you will be urged to buy your credit score, or possibly a credit monitoring service which comes with a monthly fee… there’s no need to take them up on their offer, just ignore it and view your reports for free.
In any event, after you are done with, lets say, viewing your Experian credit report, there is always a banner you can click on at the top of the page to return to annualcreditreport.com. Keep that in mind as well, because you must do that when you are finished with one, if you want to proceed with viewing your other reports.
Ok, now you’re back at the central hub again, and if you chose to view more than one report, you are then able to proceed to the next website (lets say next comes Equifax). You click “next” to proceed to Equifax’s website, then view your Equifax credit report – yada yada yada… then when you are finished there, you once again return to the main annual credit report site.
The same cycle continues with TransUnion, I think you get the idea. You can view them online for a short period of time, I believe it was 30 days. So I would either print them out or save them to your computer for later viewing and/or printing.
Some commonly asked questions
- Is it really free? Yes it is truly 100% free, no strings attached!
- What about viewing my credit score for free? Well, that you will have to pay extra for at each website, when I checked mine last the price for each credit score was $7.95. There’s no free credit score included. In fact, there is no such thing as a completely free credit score, there’s always some price to be paid whether it’s subjecting yourself to advertisements, signing up for a free trial of a credit monitoring service, or actually paying money to view your score. Check out our article on how to get a free credit score for more on that.
- Is AnnualCreditReport.com an easy and useful way to view your credit report from each of the big 3 reporting agencies?
- Easy? Not so much, since you have to go to each website to access your individual reports. It would be much easier if you could access all your reports directly from AnnualCreditReport.com without having to leave the site to access each one. But it is free after all, so I guess we can’t expect too much.
- Useful? Yes, but you only get one free report from each agency, per year. If you want another free “round of credit reports” you have to wait another 12 months from the time you last accessed them. Unless of course you spread your 3 reports throughout the entire year, accessing each one every 4 months. But keep in mind all bureaus don’t necessarily have the same information contained within them, which is why I personally like the idea of continuous credit monitoring services like FreeScoresAndMore, even though there is a cost associated with it.
- Do the free credit reports update? No, you might as well save them to your computer or print them out, because they will not change until you request a new one, and they are only available for a limited time anyway.
- Are there other websites out there trying to imitate the real AnnualCreditReport.com? Yes there are, so be careful. I have linked to the real one here, but at any time in the future if you come across a website talking about your free annual credit report, and during sign-up they start asking for your credit card info, don’t do it. If you’re not careful you can end up subscribed to an expensive credit monitoring service without even realizing it.
Basically this is just a barebones way to view your credit report from each of the big 3 credit reporting agencies. It doesn’t include credit monitoring, or a free credit score, or any other bells and whistles. The free credit reports do not update, and you can only do it one time per year for each credit bureau (which is the equivalent to three times per 12 month period, if you choose to view one report at a time, every 4 months). But it’s 100% free, and every U.S. citizen is entitled to it, so it’s definitely a resource everyone should know about and take advantage of.
This afternoon I requested the free annual reports and they sent me a message saying that “Online Delivery Unavailable – Mail in Request.” I think I was scammed the other day and when I talked to the Police today they suggested that I check my credit reports. That is what I was trying to do but if I have to mail it in they tell me that my request will be processed within 15 days of receipt of the information and then mailed back to me. Why is the information NOT available right now? If I have to wait and I have been scammed I could have a big loss to try and straighten out.
I went through all of these steps multiple times but each reporting agency that I try will not let me past the first screen trying to sell me one of their products. If I search the FAQs for free report, it jumps me back to annualcreditreport.com to start all over.
I did everything and answered all the questions. Then I entered my credit card information to pay to get my credit score. The next window informs me I would need to snail mail photocopies of my id information for my score becasue “for security reasons” I could not get it online.
They did not tell me that before I paid the $7.95.
There is no option to cancel the transaction.
There is no phone number to call and talk to someone
either of course.
Beware of companies that list no
telephone number. It tells you all you need to know
about their customer service philosophy.
There is a website called credit karma that is free to see your score and breaks down you credit report on how to make your score better.
This is a big fares. You are supposed to get one free credit score a year. Then they want your credit card number. My point is is if they are trying to trick you, what else are they trying to do.
Allen, unfortunately there’s no “one free credit score a year”, that only applies to your reports. You will need to check out the services we mention here to get your free score with your free trial, or there are 100% free sites such as creditkarma.com, creditsesame.com and quizzle.com.
Admin, your article is very helpful! I have one question, if I need to check other people credit as tenant, which website you recommend to use? we want to find one reliable site that won’t weste time and money. Hope to get your suggestion. Thanksful!
Dan, try Experian’s tenant screening service here. Good luck!
I printed out my Equifax report on annualcreditreport.com then my computer froze and I had to shut it down. The site says the reports are viewable for 30 but how do you log-in to view these reports.
Mark, you will need to login to each credit bureau’s site individually to view your free reports again while it’s available to you (www.equifax.com, http://www.experian.com, http://www.transunion.com).
I tried to access all three companies today and it has been frustrating. I had no problem with Experian.
I tried TransUnion and received a message they were having technical difficulties and to call a certain number. That gentleman gave me a another number and stated option 5 would put me in touch with a customer service representative. This was an automated system with no option 5. I gave up on TransUnion.
I tried Equifax and received a message saying I could not access it on line, instead I had to write for the report and provide drivers license, social security number, etc. I tried again later that morning and received a message stating I had already obtained the report on this date ll/7/2012. Impossible, I was never able to get through. Now it states I have to wait another year to obtain a copy from Equifax. Later today my husband and I tried to obtain a report from Equifax under his name and up front it stated we had already received a report in his name on the same date, ll/7/2012.
They told me I need to request information in writing, then state that we both have already received the report on the same day I was told we had to request info in writing. Several years ago, I had no problem with this site, but today it has been frustrating. I would like to obtain a copy of my reports from Equifax and TransUnion. Can you tell me what is the next step. Trying on the telephone is impossible to get through. Any help would be appreciated.
Linda, I have not personally had the problem you are describing, but I have heard of similar problems from many other people. I think unfortunately their system for this free annual credit report is not perfect and I’m sure they do what they can to keep up with it, but the bottom line is there’s no money in it for the credit bureaus so I’m sure it’s probably put on the back burner, in favor of their paid customers/services. I’ve had some trouble with it as well, mainly just having to restart the whole thing over because my session timed out, which is a bit of a pain. I would keep trying them on the phone or by mail, I’m afraid anything else will be fruitless.
i HAD THE DAME PROBLEM TODAY THEY DONT EVEN HAVE A TELEOHINE NUBMER ON THE SITE TO SPEAK WITH SOMEONE.
This web site is totally useless! None of them have been able to give me my FREE credit report for over a week now. Equifax just spins endlessly and the other two TransUsless and Extortian are having “Technical Difficulties”! What a way to circumvent the law and waste of time… UTTERLY USELESS!!!
Thanks much for the info. There are many “free” credit sites out there that are nothing but scams. Once again thanks for the info. Great job!
not sure why but it is telling me to send copies of my social security card, a bill from the address i live, a copy of my driver’s license and the filled out form that they say i cannot fill out online. it has to be through the mail. for me that makes it more secure but i have not read about anyone else having to do this. let me know if you have and if it was safe. thank you 🙂
Danielle, I have not heard of that one before, but if these are security measures and you are sure that you’re at the real annualcreditreport.com then it should be safe. Were you not able to answer the security questions they ask when signing in to get your free reports?
Where does it say the actual number for your credit score? all Im seeing is whats actually on my report.
Lacey, you will not be able to access your free score from annualcreditreport.com, you will need to use one of the free trial services listed in our free credit score section, or use one of the popular free services such as CreditKarma, Quizzle or Credit Sesame to view your free score.
I tried everything to get a copy of my credit report.All 3 of them say: We will get back to you. I have not use my credit for sometimes but I do Exist,I have a credit history and now I am getting unpatient with the answers from all 3 of them.
Michael, are you having trouble with the security questions about your credit?
Thank you sooooooooo much for this information. We needed our reports immediately and I have always run into sites that at the end wanted money. Finally to our FREE ones. THANK YOU!!
I went to this website address and selected all 3 boxes to get all 3 of my credit reports. The only one it showed me was ‘TRANSUNION”. The other 2 credit agencies it did not show me!!! so i went back and tried it again and it told me that it already showed me my credit reports and i i could not see them for 1 more year from now, which was on 11/10/2011. so i would not recommend going to this website to get all 3 of your credit reports!!!
Admin” you are right” I personally disagree that anyone who sides with a CRA is asking for their lives to be an openbook. What business is it of these people about your personal financial relationships? Is for you and your creditor not to use to make a profit on how you choose to conduct business.
So admin you are not right nor is Michele in this incident. Financial privacy is exactly what it says PRIVATE not public information.
thank you so much for letting me see this report! i dont have a credit card so you could see how it is hard to find this out other wise.
You do not have to request all three reports at the same time. You can spread the requests out over the year, eg., get one from Experian, four months later get one from Equifax, and then four months from then get one from TransUnion. You will be able to monitor your credit that way. However, the downside is that not all creditors report to all the credit bureaus. Some may report to only one or two. TransUnion requires creditors to pay a substantial fee for the privilege of being able to upload their customers’ credit histories. Also, different parts of the country may not use the same bureau that another part of the country may use more frequently. You can still get a free credit report if you are denied credit somewhere. This does not count as the annual free credit report. Per the annual free credit report site, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont have state laws that make their residents eligible for free credit reports.
Michele, good points, and you are absolutely right.
Thank you for making it easy to get the REAL free report. I was bombarded by the many offers and come-ons, and this clarified the process of getting the 3 free reports.
Well thank you for the information, it is really appreciated and also very useful to those of us that would otherwise have no clue how to get these three free reports once a year. Thanks again.