Where to Get Credit Report & Credit Scores

Don’t buy a credit score from anyone other than the credit bureaus or Fair Isaac, makers of the FICO score equation, and don’t buy a credit report from anyone, you can get your credit report for free by law.

As a personal finance blogger, I see a lot of shady stuff floating around the Interwebs. Whether it’s some crazy Google get rich quick scheme or fake ads touting President Obama giving out more stimulus checks, there’s always some sort of scam out there waiting to snag a few unsuspecting consumers. Lately, there have been a lot of no-name companies offering to sell you your credit report or your credit score. Don’t buy anything from them.

If you want your credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to see your credit report every twelve months. The government set up the AnnualCreditReport.com website for you to request these reports. Don’t go anywhere else and don’t pay for what is yours for free by law.

If you want your credit score, you’ll have to pay for it. The FCRA doesn’t give you the right to see your credit score every twelve months, just the report. You can buy your score from the bureaus or from MyFICO, which is Fair Isaac’s consumer facing corporation for credit products. All of the bureaus offer a trial service, usually of an identity theft monitoring product, that let’s you see your FICO credit score if you sign up for that trial.

Do not buy your credit score from a company other than the three bureaus or Fair Isaac. If you aren’t dealing with Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, or Fair Isaac directly, stop immediately. There are two reasons why:
– The other companies selling credit reports and bureaus are usually not affiliated with the three bureaus or Fair Isaac and they intend to sell your information to the highest bidder. Whereas the bureaus intend to make their money on people sticking around for the trial service, these independent companies profit off selling your information.
– The bureaus and Fair Isaac already have your personal information, why give your sensitive information to yet another company that doesn’t need it? When I give Equifax my social security number, it’s used as a way to look up my credit report. Who knows what happens when I give it to some fly-by-night company?

To recap: If you want your credit report, which you should review once every twelve month, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. If you want your credit score, go to one of the three bureaus or Fair Isaac.

If you want a happy life, try to avoid the whole credit and debt game entirely and it’s one less thing to worry about. :)

Jim writes about money issues at his personal finance blog Bargaineering.com.

(Photo: jadedhalo)