Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: May 4, 2012

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Mortgage, auto, student, and personal loans cost enough in interest payments alone, and borrowers are less than happy to add to those costs by purchasing additional services as their lenders request, such as credit reports. The government recognized this and passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which grants borrowers one free credit report each year.

The annual credit report can be requested once every 12 months at no charge whatsoever, and the report will include borrowers’ credit scores from the big three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Credit reports are vital to the lending industry’s success since they provide an evaluation of a borrower’s financing history. They’re typically sought by borrowers at the request of their mortgage, auto, student, or personal loan lenders.

In most cases, the better the credit score, the better the interest rate offer will be on a personal loan.

In addition to providing lenders with vital information, these reports can also help borrowers ensure that their financial rating is accurate. If the numbers seem off, borrowers can contest the report and seek a fix before they pass their credit score off to a lender.

The Government’s Recommended Report Source

But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received many complaints from personal loan borrowers who sought out a free credit report, only to find that the company offering the service charged them without their knowing.

These hidden charges came in the form of borrowers unknowingly purchasing extra services or subscriptions to a recurring credit reports.

As a result, the FTC recommends borrowers get free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.

According to the FTC’s website, “AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law.”

To request a report from AnnualCreditReport.com, borrowers can visit their website, call 1-877-322-8228, or fill out a request form found on the company’s website and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.