www.annualcreditreport.com is the only REALLY FREE annual credit report, as required by law.
Don't be confused by similar sounding sites or sites that advertise on Google as "free credit reports" - they want a fee, and fee ain't free, is it?
Why do an annual credit report? Well, some things can appear on your credit report that are inaccurate, wrong, or just bizarre. Even if you don't need to borrow money, it helps to have accurate information. Credit reports are used for employment, renting, whatever these days.
This year I found two items that were wrong:
1. A Radio Shack credit card account closed years ago (they gave away free batteries) that was showing open on transunion. I was able to "dispute" this with a single click ("account closed by consumer").
2. An address for "XXXXX, OK" (literally) that was obviously typed in by someone seeking my credit status, appearing on Experion. Again, a one-click dispute ("not my address") was easy to do.
It is lovely to see all those "accounts paid, up to date, closed by consumer, balance $0" for the first time in my life.
Of course, the annualcreditreport.com does not give your credit score. But obessing about credit scores is for chumpsters - poor people who think it is a privilege to be allowed to borrow money. If you pay your bills on time and do not have excessive debts, your credit score will be in the rock star range.
If you are having trouble getting loans at good rates due to your credit score, look at this as a Sign From God that you need to stop borrowing money and to try to live within your means.
For the most part, the system works flawlessly. They do ask you "security questions" to verify your account. Some of them are just wrong questions - to test you. For example, "you took out a mortgage in May of 2008 with the following companies:" and the correct answer is "NONE." Then they ask you for the amount of the nonexistant mortgage, and again the answer is "NONE."
For the second year in a row, Equifax would not display Mark's Credit report, so I would have to MAIL in a request tomorrow for that one. But funny thing, I tried it again, an hour later, and it worked fine. So I have all three reports for both of us, and they look just fine.
Some folks say you should "game" your credit score by leaving your oldest account open to show a longer credit history. Perhaps this may help if you have marginal credit. But having no debt - and no need for debt - is a far better plan, I think.
Plus, open accounts are opportunities for fraud and error. No one can charge to your closed account!
Bu what about FREEZING your credit history and report?
That is the subject for my next posting.