How to Get a Credit Report for Free

By Jackie Beck   Updated 09/14/2021 at 12:34 pm

Wondering how to get a credit report for free? If you are in the United States, the easiest and fastest way is to get them online by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.

(Yes, AnnualCreditReport.com is really free. It’s legit, and I get mine from there.)

It’s also the ONLY site that is authorized by federal law to give you your credit report for free. That makes it the best site to get all 3 credit reports.

What If I Don’t Want to Get Them Online?

You can still use Annual Credit Report even if you don’t want to (or can’t) send in your request online. You can get them by mail instead.

To do so, call 1-877-322-8228 to order them and they’ll come by mail. Or you can print out, fill in, and then mail the request form to order them.

(You can also get them in Braille, large print, or audio formats, or via a TDD relay service if need be.)

If you’re outside the US (for example, stationed on a military base) you’ll need to request your report via mail or phone.

Is the Annual Credit Report Service Really Free?

Yes.

There is no charge to get your credit report like that as long as you go through AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you do so online, as part of the process you’ll be sent to the sites for the credit reporting agency or agencies you chose.

Here’s the heads up part: Once you’re sent to those credit bureau sites, they may try to sell you other things too.

For example, you might see an offer to get your credit score or to sign up for credit monitoring or ID protection. They can charge you for those other things. (And they are not the same as your credit history report.)

But you don’t have to buy those things, sign up for anything, or put in a credit card number to get your credit report.

You can JUST get the credit report and that’s it.

How to Get a Credit Report Online, Step-by-Step

  1. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com

  2. Click Request your free credit reports.

  3. Scroll down and then click Request your credit reports.
    You’ll be taken to a form.

  4. Make sure you see the lock symbol in your browser, and are not on a public computer.
    The lock symbol looks like this circled part:
    Lock symbol circled in browser

  5. Scroll down and fill out the required parts of the form.
    The required parts are your legal name, birthday, Social Security number, and address. (Plus your prior address if you lived at your current address for less than two years.)

  6. Click Next.

  7. Decide which credit reporting agency or agencies you want to get a report from and check the box(es).

  8. Click Next.

  9. You’ll be taken to the site(s) of the agency or agencies you chose.

  10. Follow the instructions on those site(s) to confirm who you are and complete the process.

    As part of the process, you may be asked to select which accounts are yours from a list of accounts. If you don’t recognize some of them, don’t worry. Go through your old accounts to see if maybe you forgot or they go by a different name. Or if you are sure they don’t belong to you, say none of the above/does not apply for that particular list.

  11. Save or print a copy of your report if you want to come back to it later.

What If Annual Credit Report Does Not Work?

Unless the website is down (which would be rare) chances are it’s not that Annual Credit Report doesn’t work.

It’s most likely that there is a problem with how you answered the security questions.

Some of the questions they ask can be odd, from a long time ago, about a joint account, or hard to remember. They’re also not the same every time.

If you get them wrong or your address doesn’t match what the credit bureau has on file, you may not be able to get your report easily.

So if it doesn’t work for you, you may have to send proof of who you are to the credit bureau in question. There will be directions on how to do that if you run into this problem.

Sometimes that can happen if you’re a fraud victim, but it can also happen if you just gave a wrong answer on one or more of the security questions.

You can still get your report for free once they have verified your identity. If you suspect fraud tell them that too.

If you still have trouble after that, fill out the CFPB complaint form. Because legally you CAN get your report for free.

What About Other Sites?

Again, the only place required by law to give you your credit report for free is AnnualCreditReport.com.

You can get copies from other sites too, but if you do they may not be free.

For example, Experian (including freecreditreport.com), TransUnion, and Equifax all offer credit reports on their sites as well.

Be careful if you go to any site other than AnnualCreditReport.com for your credit report.

Make sure you understand what you will get, from who, and how much it is. Watch out for subscription-based credit monitoring services too that charge you (often monthly.) You do not need those to get your credit report for free.

It’s easiest just to go to the site authorized by law.

Once You Have Your Free Credit Report…

Getting copies of your credit reports allows you to check them over for any mistakes.

So once you have a copy, take a look to make sure everything is correct. Here’s a handy credit report review checklist.

If you find any errors, you can dispute them.

Summing Up

The bottom line is that the best and only authorized free way to get your credit report is through AnnualCreditReport.com. Some other sites may have similar names, but you should stick with the real one.

How to get a credit report for free

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