Obtaining and understanding your credit reports and scores is easier than ever before thanks to the internet and free credit report websites. Also thanks to new companies and regulations, credit reports and credit scores are much more accessible, useful and free.

Why were free credit report websites created?

An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act authorized in 2003 required agencies that collect and report consumer credit information to issue one free copy of a consumer credit report upon request every 12 months. The amendment was created to help consumers ensure their credit information is correct and guard against identity theft.

Free credit report websites

In 2004, the website www.annualcreditreport.com was created by the nation’s three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion –to comply with the new requirements. Annualcreditreport.com provides full credit report reports from all three credit bureaus for free, but for many years it did not provide credit scores without a fee.

Regardless, the new website was a breakthrough for consumers to better access, manage and understand their credit reports without a cost. The website also centralized the process in which consumers can dispute errors in their reports and make more information available about credit management.

Since then, some companies have gone much further than annualcreditreport.com in the services they provide at no cost. Websites like www.creditkarma.com and www.creditsesame.com revolutionized the availability of tools consumers can use to take control of their credit report and score.

Creditkarma.com and Creditsesame.com have great services that include credit scores and reports from two of the major credit bureaus, (TransUnion and Equifax) available any time all year for free. Credit reports and score information is presented in reader-friendly sections and formats that include graphics, comparatives to national rankings in many different categories, tips for improving scores, credit scores simulators to predict a score based on your credit habits/needs and factors that impact your score, etc.

Use the tools available to become a credit-planning pro

Today creditkarma.com allows us to track the progress of our improving or deteriorating credit scores every time they are updated (monthly) and access guidance and answers to the process and factors that alter credit scores like never before. There we can also find resources and information regarding debt and credit utilization along several tools to calculate and compare credit products and collection of unclaimed property. The three major credit bureaus also have good resources on their websites.

How do these websites and companies make money if they don’t charge fees?

The simplest answer is that many make money through advertising, and some may offer additional services for a fee. However, some websites – like creditkarma.com – provide all services for free.

Thankfully we live in a time when reliable resources to take control of our credit reports and scores are readily accessible and available to everyone! Stay up to date with our tips for credit management by subscribing to receive email updates, browse our Credit Management articles or give me a call.