Can I Get a Free Annual Credit Report?

For most of us, financial health – particularly the credit variety – is of vital importance. For instance, with a poor credit score – which lenders take into consideration during the application process – it’s harder to secure a low interest loan for necessities such as cars, mortages and education. Bad credit can also result in an application being denied altogether.

A poor credit score might not be reflective of flawed account holder behaviour; it could also plummit when a case of identity theft strikes due to a fraudster having illegally used their personal details to sign up for payday loans and crediti cards, etc. This is a very real problem, and unfortunately one that could go unnoticed by the victim for some time.

With credit health and identity theft now such a hot topic, more and more of us are eager to increase vigilance when it comes to spotting potential issues – fraudulent or not – that could affect our financial reputations. Now, you’ve likely heard of credit reports (produced by the three major credit bureaus Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). But are they available – and free – so you can conduct your own credit monitoring?

The short answer is yes and yes, but there is a caveat (which we’ll get to shortly). The aforementioned credit bureaus are required to provide an annual credit report to everyone – according to law under the FCRA Act – no matter their credit history. Free does mean free, but you have to consider whether receiving a single, solitary credit report every 365 days is a viable credit monitoring solution.

Then there’s the process of actually reading through and analyzing a whole year’s information, hoping you don’t miss a beat along the way. It can be a lot of work, not to the mention the fact that a free report won’t include a credit score (that three-digit number which goes a long way in defining your credit worthiness), which is of course an essential aspect of credit monitoring.

Naturally a better solution would be having the power to not only access your credit reports, but to receive real-time alerts concerning any relevent credit and ID-related activities via a service that specializes in monitoring such data around-the-clock. So, if someone began masquerading as you, compromizing your data and good credit status, you’d be made aware of the fact right away.

Credit Monitoring Services, available for desktops and smart devices, are equipped with sophisticated technology to keep you in the loop at all times, with some capable of scanning for personal details that could surface on the dark web and court record databases. An industry standard $1 million in recovery insurance is almost always on offer, arguably making a credit monitoring service the more logical solution versus relying on a free annual credit report.