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I Want My Free Credit Reports

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Do you  wish you could see your credit reports? You’re in luck! Under federal law, you can get free credit reports from national consumer reporting agencies once a year. The major credit reporting agencies that must provide these reports are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. In some cases, you can get more than one copy a year. And you can also get reports from agencies you probably haven’t heard of. We’ll tell you about those in a moment.

But don’t be surprised if you find your credit reports a bit confusing. That’s because, while they contain information about your accounts, they don’t explain what that information means. Is it good? Bad? Neutral? It can be hard to tell.

That’s where your credit scores come in. A credit score helps you understand how lenders and other companies are likely to view your credit. You can get a free credit score using a services such as Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. After you check your score, take a careful look at the factors that affect it, such as your debt, the age of your credit history or the mix of accounts you carry.

Requesting Your Free Credit Reports

AnnualCreditReport.com is the website for ordering free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Learn more about ordering your free credit reports. Some experts recommend “staggering” your reports so you get one from each of the three major agencies every four months. The problem with that approach is that the three main credit bureaus don’t share information with each other, so if there is a mistake on one of your reports, it could take you months to find out. For that reason, the first time you get your reports it is a good idea to get all three.

Besides the major agencies, there are additional consumer reporting agencies that, by law, must provide you with copies of your report once a year upon request. These include agencies that report bank and checking account information such as:

  • ChexSystems, Certegy, and TeleCheck for banking and checking reports;
  • Verisk A-Plus reports and LexisNexis C.L.U.E. for reports about insurance claims;
  • First Advantage and The Work Number for background check reports;
  • MIB, Milliman IntelliScript and Ingenix MedPoint for medical and prescription history reports;
  • First Advantage, CoreLogic SafeRent and Tenant Data Services for rental screening reports.

To learn how to order these reports, read our series on specialty consumer reports. Not all of them will have a report about you. If you haven’t bounced a check or had any problems with your financial institution, for example, then you aren’t likely to have a report with ChexSystems, Certegy or TeleCheck.

Even More Free Reports

You may be entitled to additional free credit reports in certain circumstances:

  • State law requires it in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Vermont.
  • If you are unemployed and seeking work.
  • If you have been turned down or charged more for credit or insurance.
  • If you are a victim of fraud.

Understanding Your Credit Report

Once you get your credit reports, the fun begins! Take your time going through them. It may seem overwhelming if you haven’t seen them before. If you can’t understand something in your reports, the credit reporting agency must provide you with an explanation. You can also get answers to questions about your credit reports at Credit.com.

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Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team