Avoid the scams and get your credit report with the only free government site
There are thousands of scam sites trying to trick you into paying for your credit report but getting your truly free report takes less than five minutes.
By the end of this video, you’ll know exactly how to get a credit report free. I’ll also reveal my strategy for getting a free credit report and score throughout the year to protect against identity theft.
Today’s video is the seventh in our debt payoff series, an entire series on ditching your debt from creating those goals that are going to motivate you to some tricks I’ve learned to pay off debt.
Think of it like a TV series, at the end of this season, you will have all the tools you need to finally get out from under that crushing debt. So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any of the episodes. I’ll also be putting these videos in a special list in the Playlists section of the channel and link to it in the video description below so you can watch the series in order.
Why You Need to Check Your Credit Report Every Year
This is going to be one of the shorter videos in the series but will save you a couple hundred dollars a year, minimum. The sad fact is that you need to constantly be on top of your credit report for fraud and identity theft. More than three million complaints of fraud and ID theft were reported in 2016.
That’s almost six people every minute and that’s just the ones that caught it.
But you can only get your credit report free once a year and credit monitoring services are expensive, most charging upwards of $20 a month.
I’m not only going to show you the only truly free way to get your credit report but I’ll share a strategy that will help you monitor your credit for free towards the end of the video so make sure you stick around for that.
Checking your credit report regularly isn’t just important to protect your money but that report is the biggest factor in your credit score and being able to get the money you need when you need it. Now the Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that entitles you to see your report from each of the three credit bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax and Experian once every 12 months.
A website was set up, annualcreditreport.com, and a hotline to help you get your free report each year.
How to Avoid Scam Credit Report Sites
The bad news is that a thousand fake sites and scams have also been set up to trick you into thinking you’re on the free credit site.
Now for transparency, I do use one of the credit bureaus TransUnion to help monitor my credit and for a few other services, but I’m not going to talk about that in this video. This is only going to be about getting your free report and a strategy to monitor your credit.
No sales pitches, no special offers on credit monitoring, just getting your free report.
How to Get Your Credit Report from the Real Website
The easiest way to get your free report is to go to the website, annualcreditreport.com, and click the button that says ‘request your free credit reports’. Your first screen will be for information including your name, address, social security and date of birth.
If you’ve moved in the last two years, you might need to provide your previous address as well. This is just so the credit bureaus can find your report.
To protect your credit report and identity, you’ll probably also be asked two or three questions that only you would know. The questions will be multiple choice like, you lived at one of the addresses below in the last five years or you have a loan with one of these lenders.
After that, you’ll go to the next screen where you pick which of your three credit reports you want to see or all of them. After you pick which report you want to see, you’ll be able to see it immediately online.
You can also call the websites number 1-877-322-8228 and get your reports mailed to you. Of course, this is going to take a little more time but is still completely free.
Getting your free credit report really is that easy. You only need to make sure you’re on the legitimate site or that you call in to their phone number.
How to Use Your Credit Report to Protect Your Identity
Now for that strategy to protect yourself against identity theft.
It’s true that you can only get each of your reports once a year but you don’t have to get them all at the same time. By ordering them one at a time, you’re never more than four months away from checking your credit.
That means getting your TransUnion report now, then your Experian report in four months and then your Equifax report four months after that. The credit reports are not going to be 100% identical because sometimes you’ll have a lender report your debt to one but not the others, but this is rare and they are almost always extremely similar.
I would also recommend finding a credit card that offers credit score monitoring. Most cards will offer this as a free service. They’ll check your score once a month and update you. So if you notice your score drops more than a dozen points in a month then you can grab your credit report to make sure you’re identity hasn’t been stolen.
One last warning about those free credit report scams. I searched ‘free credit report’ on Google. The first two results were ads for paid sites. The first non-ad was a site made to look like annualcreditreport.com and it even offered ‘free’ signup. In fact, you don’t even see the monthly price of $30 until you get through the signup process.
Not all of these paid sites are scams. Some are just life-sucking clowns that live on the sorrow of others…
OK, maybe I’m being a little hard. Some offer legit credit monitoring services and some help in boosting your FICO but none of them are free like they want you to believe.
We’ve got three more videos in the credit part of our debt free series including how to get bad marks taken off your report, negotiating with creditors and how to freeze your credit from hackers. I’ll show you exactly how to dispute something on your credit report in our next video and give you a template you can use.