How to Order Free Credit Reports and Get FICO Scores

It's the Only Safe Place Online to Get Your Free Credit Report

free credit reports
You can obtain one free credit report a year from all 3 agencies.. © Big Stock Photo

Obtaining free credit reports online is not as easy as it might appear and there are many deceptive websites that will charge. Use caution and common sense. The first step in any process that involves applying for credit, of course, is to obtain a copy of your credit report. Some states have passed legislation giving consumers the right to receive free credit reports. They are Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont.

However, federal laws also make it easy for anyone to obtain one free copy of their credit report every 12 months. You can obtain a copy of your credit report online, safely and without risk by pasting this secure site into your browser:

Since most of your credit information is duplicated by the 3 credit reporting agencies, if you want to check your credit reports more often than once a year, here is a way to do it. Ask for a report from only one credit reporting agency. Then, 4 months later, request another report from the second credit agency, and finally, 4 months from that date, request a report from the third credit reporting agency. This way you can receive 3 free credit reports a year.

Fee-based Credit Report Companies
Do not use suspicious companies that collect a fee from you to obtain your credit report because you might be disclosing your social security number to criminals.

Make sure that you have a secure connection, like https, before submitting confidential information, and try to do business with companies you know.

Watch out for companies that pitch free reports and try to snooker you into signing up for additional services you do not want to order. The additional services offered such as notifying you if somebody accesses your credit score are definitely not free.

FICO Scores
FICO scores were developed by Fair Isaac Corporation in the late 1980s and are used today to evaluate provider risk and consumer creditworthiness for everything from borrowing money to buy a house to obtaining automobile insurance.

You can obtain your FICO score online for a small fee, but it is not free. The company will send you a credit report and scores from three credit reporting agencies. Typically lenders will throw out the top and bottom score and keep the middle score. Make sure you are receiving a genuine FICO score or NewGen score. Each credit bureau has a different name for its FICO score. Equifax is Beacon. Experian is Experian / Fair Isaac Risk Model and TransUnion is Empirica. Everything else is an imposter.

The FICO score your lender gets and the FICO score you can order yourself will most likely be two different scores, do don't expect the score you receive to match. FICO scores range from 300, which is very bad, to 850, which is the very best.

A competitor to FICO is VantageScore, which is a different way to compute credit qualifications.

This scoring model assigns a letter grade, from A to F, and was created by the three credit bureaus. Here is how it breaks down as scores are grouped and then rated:


  • A: 901 - 990
  • B: 801 - 900
  • C: 701 - 800
  • D: 601 - 700
  • F: 501 - 600

Consumers can't yet order VantageScore. It is available only to lenders.At the time of writing,

Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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