Three Credit Reports: Pay or free?

There are three major credit reporting agencies (CRA’s) in the U.S. and you are probably recorded on all three of them. Each has different records and different ways of giving you a credit score. So, you really need to get all three credit reports to see where you stand.

There are many ways to get these reports. You can do it yourself or you can use one of a number of paid services. The free system (required by federal law) is described in our archives. Read How to get your Free credit reports from credit agencies for more complete info. You can get them on line, or by phone or email.

You might also find ads for various services that will get your reports for you. Some offer free credit scores as a come on, but then you will be subscribed to some sort of service. Others will give you some additional information. Others will “watch” your file and notify you when anything changes.

Whether or not you should pay for a service depends on a lot of things. How much you know about credit reports, how much time or money you have, and why you want the reports. If you are inclined to use a service for your credit reports, make sure you shop around a bit before making up your mind as to which one is best for you.  A family member bought the myFICO offer and was very pleased with it. They offer a comprehensive explanation of each part of the reports on an easy-to-read website. You can see their ads on this site.

However you get your three credit reports, make sure you check all the negative entries to see that they are correct. Sadly, a very large percentage of files contain errors. Some of the errors are absurd, such as entries for a completely different person. There is a way to clean these up, and you can learn more about that in our archives. Read Credit Repair: Repairing or Improving Your Credit for more information.

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