How to get your credit reports for free …. no strings attached.

Want to see your credit reports?

Some companies provide almost free peeks at your credit reports.  Typically, you have to sign up for a credit checking or identity theft program …. and then cancel your subscription within 7 or 30 days to avoid getting billed.


There’s also a low hassle way …


Did you know that — under federal law — you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was signed into law in December 2003. The FACT Act, a revision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, allows consumers to get one free comprehensive disclosure of all of the information in their credit file from each of the three national credit reporting companies once every 12 months through a Central Source.

The central source is :


The process is fast and relatively easy …

1) Go to 

2) Enter some critical ID information.

Note: I always get queasy when I have to submit my Social Security number, but I took the chance that this service was legit since I accessed through my Identity Theft service.

3) Pick which of the 3 credit reports you want … you can cherry-pick one or ask for all 3.

Each of the 3 credit reporting agencies collects and records information … they do in slightly different ways and may not have the same information about your credit history.  Do it’s worth checking all 3 for accuracy.

If you are thinking about buying something big soon – a new car or even a home – you may want to get all of your credit reports now. That way you can correct any mistakes on all of them right away.

If you are not planning a big purchase, requesting them over time might be a better choice. When you spread them out, watch for expected changes or suspicious activity throughout the year.

4) Answer some questions to verify that you are who you say you are.

Note: I found this to be the most frustrating part of the process.

The questions are algorithm-retrieved from your credit reports … and require exact answers.

Sounds easy until you get an ambiguous question like “Who was your first employer?”

Do they mean McDonald’s when you were a teenager or IBM when you graduated college?

Or, a very specific question like: “What are the month and year that you opened your BigBank credit card.

The good news is that – if you flunk the verification — you can start over and take another whack at it, knowing the types of questions and having a chance to gather some information … Tip: If you have a prior credit report on file, pull it out as a reference doc for the questions. 


My view:

For everybody, credit-hacking and identity theft are a matter of when not if.  I’ve been hit a couple of times, and few of my friends are unscathed.

I recommend going through the above retrieval when things seem normal … to see the info and practice the process.

Trust me, it seems much harder when you’re trying to recover from a hack.



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