A federal law known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 gives you the right to a free credit report every year. You can take advantage of your right to a free annual credit report to monitor your credit with the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
3 Ways to Order
There are three ways for you to order your official free annual credit report.
- Online: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Click on "Request Free Credit Reports." Follow the steps to complete your request. If you are suspicious about a link to the legitimate annual credit report website, type the address directly into your web browser. Just make sure you don't misspell the address, or you could end up on an illegitimate site.
- By phone: Call 1-877-322-8228. If you choose this option, you'll go through a verification process to ensure it's really you (and not someone else) who is ordering your credit report. If you are deaf, have trouble hearing, or need a braille or large print version of your report, you can call 1-800-821-7232 to order your annual credit report.
- By mail: To request your annual credit reports by mail, you will need to complete a request form. Download and print an annual credit report request form from AnnualCreditReport.com. You'll need to have Adobe viewer or another PDF reader installed on your computer to view and print the form. Once you've completed the form, you should mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
When you order by phone or mail, you will receive your annual credit report via mail within two to three weeks. When you order online, you should be able to access it immediately.
To get a free credit report, you should order your annual credit report using one of the methods listed above and not directly from the credit bureaus or through any other websites. One exception to this rule, though, is Equifax. Equifax provides you with six free copies of your Equifax credit report each year if you sign up for a free myEquifax account. It will offer this service through at least 2026.
If you find an error on your credit report, report it to the relevant credit bureau in writing. Keep a copy of anything you send.
When to Order
You can order all three annual credit reports at one time, or you can space them out over the year. You may choose to order your Equifax annual credit report in April, Experian in August, TransUnion in December, and start over with Equifax the next April. This would allow you to monitor your credit throughout the entire year.
You can also order a free credit report in certain situations. These include:
- If a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying an application for credit
- If you're unemployed and plan to look for a job in the next 60 days
- If you're on welfare
- If your report is inaccurate due to identity theft
If a company takes adverse action against you, you will receive a letter with information on which credit bureau to contact. If you are in one of the other situations that entitle you to an extra free report, contact each credit bureau directly for a copy. If you aren't in one of these situations and you need an additional copy of your credit report, you can buy a copy by contacting the relevant credit bureau.
Free and $1 Credit Reports
Prior to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, there were dozens of impostor websites on the internet promising to give you a free annual credit report. These sites would request your credit card information and enroll you in a trial membership to a credit monitoring service.
If you didn't remember to cancel the trial, your credit card would be charged for a full period of the credit monitoring service. These gimmicks still exist, although now most of them offer your credit report for $1, rather than for free. The legitimate website for ordering your free annual credit report doesn't require a credit card and doesn't ask you to sign up for any trial subscription.
Seeing Your Credit Score
Your credit score is not part of your annual credit report, regardless of whether the report was free or paid, so you'll have to order your credit score separately. You can check it for free through sites like CreditKarma.com or CreditSesame.com. You can also order your credit score for a fee from myFICO.com or from one of the three credit bureaus.