Where to get a credit check?
March 10, 2004 10:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm starting to get paranoid about my credit history for some reason (probably because I just applied for a Visa Platinum card for the helluvit), so I googled up "Credit Check" and was bombarded with what seemed endless websites offering to give me a free credit check. I don't want to accidently be scammed or anything, so anybody have recommendations on legit places to get a credit check? (free is preferred, but I know thats not always the case)
posted by jmd82 to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Well the "big three" credit report agencies are:

Equifax and
Trans Union

They are legit, but charge a little (unless you sign up for one of their services). You can also get a free report if you've been turned down for certain things due to your credit rating.
posted by gluechunk at 12:05 AM on March 11, 2004

It may be best to get reports directly from the big 3. I previously got an all-three-in-one report from a third party for a discount price, but when I wanted to get an investigation into an item on my Experian report, Experian wouldn't do anything unless I could tell them which item it was on their own report. Initiating an investigation is simpler this way as well.
posted by shoos at 12:09 AM on March 11, 2004

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows you to obtain a copy of your consumer credit report from any consumer credit reporting agency for a reasonable charge. The FCRA also states that individuals are entitled to receive a disclosure directly from the consumer credit reporting agency free of charge under the following circumstances:
  1. You have been denied credit, insurance or employment in the past 60 days as a result of your report;
  2. You certify in writing that you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the 60-day period beginning on the day you make the certification;
  3. You are a recipient of public welfare assistance;
  4. You have reason to believe that your file at the agency contains inaccurate information due to fraud; or
  5. If you are a resident of Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Vermont, you may receive a free copy of your consumer credit report once each year, and if you are a resident of Georgia, twice each year.

posted by crunchland at 12:28 AM on March 11, 2004

In some states (like here in GA) you are entitled to a free credit report yearly. There are other instances as well; more info here.
posted by TedW at 5:52 AM on March 11, 2004

I definitely recommend going for reports from the "big three" mentioned above. All of the "free" credit reports I've ever seen give you nothing but raw data; no context, no explanations of terms, no suggestions for what to do with the numbers you are given. The reports you pay for (around $12-15 each, I think) give you detailed explanations of everything you see, including recommendations for how to correct mistakes. You should probably get reports from all three, because they may differ slightly--especially if there's an error--but if you can't afford it or want to see what the big deal is get one that gives you your "credit score" as well.

You can read about credit reports at Bankrate; search the site for "credit report" for a list of all their articles.
posted by arco at 6:29 AM on March 11, 2004

By 2005 you should be able to get credit reports for free. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by Bush in Dec. 2003, gives you the right to a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus. However, the provisions of the FACT Act are not self-executing, and the FTC has to write the regulations about exactly how this will be accomplished. They are supposed to go into effect by the end of this year.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:45 AM on March 11, 2004

Be aware that pulling your credit report will lower your credit rating a little. If you're really worried about protecting your credit, I recommend EverydayWealth - for $20 a month they provide monthly credit reports which don't lower your credit rating, they provide insurance against identity theft and other credit-related hassles, and if something happens to your credit rating they'll help you to correct it. Plus, if you're in the market for certain kinds of loans, you can "loan shop" online without having it hurt your credit rating.
posted by gd779 at 7:38 AM on March 11, 2004

If you pull your credit report yourself, it doesn't hurt your credit score. Just if somebody else pulls it. See here for an excellent writeup.
posted by pizzasub at 7:56 AM on March 11, 2004

Doesn't say it doesn't hurt your credit score, just that it doesn't stay on the record indefinitely:

A soft inquiry will show up when you request a copy of your credit report, for instance. Soft inquiries do not stay on your credit report.

When I was applying for a mortgage, I was warned against asking for a credit report without good reason (I had no cause to think I had bad credit), since it would affect my credit (however minutely and temporarily). But I Am Not a Credit Expert.
posted by languagehat at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2004

I've been pleased with TrueCredit.com -- they offer all 3 reports plus an evaluation of your shorthand "credit score." I have nothing to compare it to, but I can say that they deliver what they advertise, providing useful info and nicely readable reports.
posted by Tubes at 8:59 AM on March 11, 2004

Response by poster: This is some very useful information to go in the bookmarks, thank you all. I actually live GA, so very convenient for me to ger a credit report.
posted by jmd82 at 9:06 AM on March 11, 2004

Try MyFico.com. This site is run by Fair Isaac, the company that invented the FICO score used by lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness, and this is actually the most important part of your report. Other sites often use estimated FICO scores which might not be accurate. MyFico.com also has a FICO score simulator which allows you to see how your score will be affected if you do certain things; very handy.

That said, if you just want a free credit report from a major bureau, I've used the one offered by qSpace. Most of the sites offering a free credit report end up directing you to these guys. You have to sign up for a free 30-day trial of their credit monitoring service, but if you cancel before the thirty days are up you won't be charged anything. I did and had no problems.

To confirm what pizzasub said, if you request your credit report, no, it should not affect your score.
posted by kindall at 9:09 AM on March 11, 2004

Once you've been a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud and gone through the hassle, frustration, and expense of trying to fix it, that $10 or $15 multiplied by 3 credit bureaus looks like pocket change.
posted by Alylex at 3:41 PM on March 11, 2004

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