AnnualCreditReport.com usually provides a free credit report once every 12 months. During the pandemic, the site is offering free weekly credit reports.
Personal finance isn't exactly the most exhilarating of topics. However, regardless of your credit history, monitoring your FICO score from the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) is vital. Those same major credit bureaus help determine if you qualify for good credit card or loan interest rates. In fact, with identity theft rates high due to the COVID-19 pandemic, paying attention to your credit file is now more vital than ever.
Shopping around for a credit reporting company to provide you with a credit report can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if you only want to check your score once a year. For the unbeatable price of $0.00, this website is perfect for someone who only wants the basic credit reports.
What is AnnualCreditReport.com?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (www.FTC.gov) officially recognize AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s the only site that is obligated under federal law — the Fair Credit Reporting Act — to provide users with a free credit report from:
Central Source LLC, an Atlanta-based joint venture between the three relevant credit unions, manages and maintains the website.
How do I use AnnualCreditReport.com?
All you need to do to get a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com is provide some personal information when you fill out the free credit report request form. These details include:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Residential address
This is merely to confirm your identity and prevent your credit information falling into the wrong hands and someone opening a new credit account in your name. Many people fear giving their personal information online in case they fall victim to an identity theft scam, but AnnualCreditReport.com has an outstanding reputation as a safe and dependable website.
Upon confirming your identity, AnnualCreditReport.com will take you to the website of the credit company whose report you wish to view. In some cases, you may not have an adequate credit trail to confirm the authenticity of your identity on the spot. If this occurs, you’ll have to wait to receive your credit report by mail instead of viewing it instantly online.
AnnualCreditReport.com isn’t complicated to use. There’s no sifting through price packages and products because the annual credit report is the only service it offers. If you like to keep things simple and only need the most basic information about your personal credit score, this service is an excellent choice.
What services does it offer?
Because AnnualCreditReport.com is free of charge, the credit reporting platform and the services that it offers are minimal. As such, the single service that it provides is a free annual credit report from the three primary credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Although it doesn’t come with the bells and whistles offered by some other credit monitoring services, it’s difficult to argue with the fact that it’s something for nothing.
If you’re wondering what the basic free credit score you receive when you sign up for the AnnualCreditReport.com service includes, it’s surprisingly comprehensive. You can expect to receive a list of the following:
- Your previous loans
- Your current credit limits
- Your payment history
- Your credit information from public records
Unfortunately, this service doesn’t include a credit score, credit monitoring or identity theft protection services, but it does provide some identity theft and credit safety resources. If you want to include those features in your package, it would be better to sign up for a paid service.
Advantages of AnnualCreditReport.com
First and foremost, you can’t ignore the fact that the AnnualCreditReport.com service is totally free of charge. Some people may want to take advantage of constant credit monitoring, extremely detailed reports and identity theft insurance. Others may prefer a minimalistic approach and keep track of their own details. AnnualCreditReport.com is free and easy to use.
It's owned by the three major credit agencies
The three primary credit agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, own the service. The convenient partnership gives you the option to request an individual report from each of the companies at any time. That way, you can monitor your credit throughout the year instead of getting three reports at one time. It’s a smart way to get the most bang for your buck, even though you’re technically not paying a cent for it.
What sets AnnualCreditReport.com apart?
As mentioned, the price point is the major factor that sets AnnualCreditReport.com apart from other credit reporting services. Unfortunately, AnnualCreditReport.com doesn’t offer any services other than the annual credit report, which is a drawback for those who want a more comprehensive view of their credit situation.
The service doesn’t include any form of live customer support, so if you run into any issues, you’ll have to communicate via the contact form on the website. There’s another common complaint that can also be an advantage. AnnualCreditReport.com is so careful with your information that it’s incredibly difficult to get into your account if you can’t remember the security questions. Make sure you write them down somewhere safe just in case.
Despite its drawbacks, AnnualCreditReport.com is an official government resource. It became a federal mandate under the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Because the government sanctions it, it’s an excellent way to access your credit information.
AnnualCreditReport.com is a free, government-sanctioned service, so it’s a reputable source of credit information. You should not feel afraid that you will be cheated or scammed. The services are basic and limited to the essential credit reporting functions, so it lacks features. However, it’s difficult to expect a lot when you’re not paying anything.
Although AnnualCreditReport.com is a reputable credit reporting service, users report several valid complaints. Some say the identity verification process is confusing and frustrating. In defense of the website, this is because identity safety is paramount, and specific protocols are in place to ensure the users’ information remains safe.
If you consider all the details, AnnualCreditReport.com is great for what it is. It’s the perfect way to get a basic look at your credit from a trustworthy website. You don’t have to pay a penny, it will keep your information safe and you can track where your credit stands from year to year.
Should I use AnnualCreditReport.com?
AnnualCreditReport.com is the perfect option for anyone who wants a basic, annual snapshot of their credit from year to year. Plenty of specialized credit-reporting services exist, but AnnualCreditReport.com is ideal if you prefer a minimalistic approach to monitoring your credit. You should use this service if you don’t want to pay for special features or constant credit monitoring, but be aware that the online identification process isn’t always clear and straightforward the first time around.
If you want the added security of identity theft insurance, constant monitoring and a definitive credit score, then AnnualCreditReport.com isn’t for you. There are plenty of professional credit repair services that offer these specific add-ons, but AnnualCreditReport.com doesn’t have any premium or paid options available. Avoid this service if you take credit monitoring seriously and want to go the extra mile to keep track of your credit.
For what it is, you can’t beat AnnualCreditReport.com. This federally mandated provision means that everyone can check their credit report annually. The website does a phenomenal job of providing bare-bones credit reporting to its users at a price that anyone can afford.
Update: This article has been updated to clarify AnnualCreditReport.com’s policy regarding free credit reports during the pandemic.
Disclaimer: This story was originally published on August 4, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. To find the most relevant information concerning AnnualCreditReport.com or its weekly credit reporting during the pandemic, please visit their website: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action