Not all “Free” Credit Reports are Free

Checking your credit report at least annually is a good idea to ensure your credit history has been accurately reported. A regular credit check-up will allow you time to correct any errors that may be on the report before your credit is checked for a loan on a major purchase like a home or vehicle. One thing you don’t want to have to do when you need money is try to convince a lender that an error was made on your credit report.

Federal law requires that each credit reporting agency provide you with one free credit report each year upon request. Sounds easy but beware. There are many websites, some with catchy jingles, offering “free” credit reports but require that you sign up for a service with a monthly fee to get the report. The federal government provides a website to obtain this information at To ensure the website is secure, this site has a link to click to make sure it’s the right website and to protect your privacy.

The three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have websites offering credit reports. If you want your credit score, you’ll have to pay for the report. But the score is not necessary to check the accuracy of the information.

If you find an error, send a letter to the credit reporting agency explaining what you feel is wrong. Its best to send by certify mail so you can track when it was received. The agency has 30 days after receipt to respond.

Beware of “credit clinics” that offer to repair your credit, guarantee to remove late payments or bankruptcies from a credit report or charge a lot of money to repair credit. Most negative information is removed after seven years and bankruptcies remain for 10 years.

Most issues you can handle yourself for free. The Federal Trade Commission has a website which answers most questions about your rights Also, you can request that consumer reporting companies exclude your name for pre-approved, unsolicited credit and insurance offers. Just call 1-888-5OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).

This publication is for general information only and is not intended as formal legal advice. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Curtis & Curtis, P.C.

Curtis & Curtis, P.C. is a full service law firm located in Jackson, Michigan providing superior legal services and advice to individuals, families and businesses throughout mid-Michigan since 1901.

Categories: Firm News