Is There Really a “Free” Credit Report?

Yes, believe it or not.creditreportgraphic

You’ve probably seen the commercials for LifeLock, the company where the president was publishing his own social security number to show how safe their $100/year identity theft program could be.  Sounded great until they had to settle with the FTC for $12 million for alleged deceptive advertising.

Then there’s  Great commercials on tv.  Ah, but there’s a fee to sign up and then you need to cancel to avoid paying $15.  If I’m handing over personal information to confirm there has not been any funny business with my credit, this sign-up-and-then-cancel routine is not the way I want to begin.

You can obtain a free “credit disclosure” (or credit report) once a year from the three major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the FACT Act.

So, yes, it is true, federal law allows you to obtain your credit report every year.  The FTC’s website explains the situation here and here.

So can you get your report… online… instantly?  Yes.  Go to and start the process.  You can run all three credit reports at once or, if you are suspicious about monthly activity, you can run one at a time and stagger it out over the period of a year.  If you are concerned about using a website for this, you can mail or call it in — note, the FTC’s website references using this, if that increases your confidence.

I pulled all three reports in about 5 minutes.  Anecdotally, it looks like Equifax is the most comprehensive.

Note: you have to pay to get your “credit score.”  That’s not free.

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