It’s safe to say that almost everyone in America has seen or heard a commercial for free credit reports. Watch an hour of national television anytime during the day, and you’re virtually guaranteed to see a commercial about credit reports.

But did you know that most of the offers for the so-called free reports are actually lures to sell other products? It’s true, and that’s the subject of this eye-opening article — the latest installment of our dirty little secrets of the credit industry.

Free Credit Reports Online – The Real Source
Let me start with the most important premise of this article, and then we can build from there. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year, from all three of the reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). When I refer to “laws” in this context, I am talking about the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This is a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and it regulates everything related to credit reports and reporting.

But there is only one official website that’s mandated and regulated by the FTC, and that is where I recommend you go to get your free credit reports online. That website is AnnualCreditReport.com.

So what is the fishing bait I mentioned in the title of this article, and what does it have to do with free credit reports online? Well, a lot of companies offer your free reports through their websites — but only when you sign up for some kind of credit monitoring or identity-theft prevention service. So while there is only one official website where you can get your free reports, there are literally thousands of other sites that offer freebies in conjunction with some kind of monthly service.

I’m not saying these monthly services are bogus. On the contrary, some of them do offer a good level of protection against credit fraud and identity theft. All I’m saying is that you can get your free credit reports from all three bureaus once a year, without signing up for anything at all. It’s required by law, and you can do it through the website I mentioned earlier in this article.

Citation Note: The original version of this article was written by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the publisher of the Home Buying Institute, which includes one of the largest libraries of mortgage advice for home buyers.

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