by Matt B

Make no mistake about it, there is only one place online to get a FREE credit report. AnnualCreditReport is the only legitimately free website to obtain this report with no strings attached. There are hundreds of other companies that offer a “free” report, nearly all of which require the customer to sign up for a trial service, or enroll in a credit protection/monitoring service.

At least once a week at work, I see customers who have charges of $12.99, $14.96, $19.99, or as much as $34.99 on their accounts and have no idea why the charges are there. These charges are often for “credit protection” plans that the customer is not even aware that they have signed up for. In most cases, they have visited a website for their credit report, not realizing that once the free trial membership ends, they will be billed monthly until they cancel. is the most recognizable of these services. Everyone has seen their catchy commercials using song to show that you can easily go online to get your free credit report. What many do not notice is the guy at the end of the commercial saying “offer applies with enrollment in triple advantage”. Triple advantage is a credit protection service offered by experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies (and the owner of Even though makes it pretty clear on the website that you are enrolling in a free trial membership in triple advantage, many people are still surprised when the first charge is noticed.

  • There is a lesson to be learned here:
    If you provide account information of any kind, you are likely to be charged. Know exactly why a company is asking for credit card or checking account information before providing it.

    There are a number of other companies that offer “free” credit reports, or credit protection or monitoring services. Unless these services are necessary for you financially, ignore them. Once a year, you are entitled by law to a credit report from each agency for no charge. The only place to get this report is I find that the best method of getting your free report is to spread it out throughout the year.

  • You do not have to get all 3 reports at the same time.
    My credit report cycle starts in May. Mid-May, I get my Experian report. I wait a few months until August or September to get my Transunion report, and finally in January or February, I get my Equifax report. I prefer this method because of the flexability it affords me.

    Let’s say I get my Experian report in May and after reviewing it, I see nothing that raises any flags. Later in the year, if I see an item on a different report that I disagree with or have questions about, I am left with options.
    *Option 1) Take another look at my Experian report to ensure that this item is not on it. If it is a new item, I can reorder the Experian report. *(I would have to pay for this service).
    *Option 2) Write the agency reporting the item to find out more about it. Although this process may take a while, it can benefit you greatly if it means maintaining accuracy on your reports.

    I can not recommend getting all of your credit reports simultaneously, but it may work best for you to be able to review all three reports together. It is still an option. So, when is the last time you viewed your credit report, and more importantly, did you pay for it?

  • I know that this piece does not contain a lot of information about what to do once you do get your reports, that one will come at a later date.

    Add to Technorati Favorites

  • Comments on this entry are closed.

    Previous post:

    Next post: