Consumer Alert

Why You Should Get Your Free Credit Report Every Year

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office recommends that you take advantage of your rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and obtain free copies of your credit reports each year.

Your credit report is a list of your credit accounts and credit history. It shows how much you owe on your credit cards, your mortgage, and other loans. It also tells whether you pay your bills on time and if you have filed for bankruptcy or have tax liens or monetary judgments against you. Having an accurate credit report can have a huge impact on your life. Your credit report is reviewed when you apply for a loan for a house or car, buy insurance, apply for certain jobs or even rent a home.

You should check your credit report every year for accuracy, correct any errors you find -- and make sure no one is using your identity to open a new credit card account, obtain a loan or take other action pretending to be you.

There are three primary nationwide companies that compile this information and sell it to creditors, insurers, employers, and others. These companies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can obtain a free report from each company once every 12 months. However, be aware that there are websites that offer “free” credit reports, but end up charging you money or requiring you to sign up for a service before giving you a copy of your report. There is only one official place to get a free credit report that is authorized and guaranteed by law: the website is www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

For more information:

Consumer Protection Unit
February 2012