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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Taxes & Financial Planning > Credit Report

Credit Report Cost


How Much Does a Credit Report Cost?

 
low costFederal Law Requires: Free Credit Report Every 12 Monthsaverage costOne-Time Credit Report and Score: $15-$40high costCredit Monitoring Subscription: $155-$240 a Year
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A credit report is a record of an individual's credit history, including their identity, current credit levels (mortgage, credit cards, loans, etc.) and public record information (court judgments, tax liens or bankruptcy proceedings). A credit score is a number based on the details in the credit report. There are three national credit bureaus -- Equifax[1] , Experian[2] and TransUnion -- and each assigns a credit score based on the information it collects, so the scores vary. Note that many lending institutions use the FICO score[3] to decide who qualifies for a loan, at what interest rate and with what credit limits.

Typical costs:

  • Under federal law, every 12 months each consumer is entitled to one free copy of his or her own credit report from each credit bureau. Request a report at AnnualCreditReport.com[4] or by calling (877) 322-8228. The free reports can be requested from all three companies at the same time, for a free annual credit overview, or ordered from one company at a time, four months apart, for more frequent free credit information.
  • AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site where consumers can obtain their credit reports for free. There are look-alike sites, like the much-advertised FreeCreditReport.com, but these sites provide a "free" report while automatically enrolling the consumer in a monthly service with monthly fees. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a consumer alert[5] about websites that offer a "free credit report" but actually sign consumers up for a monthly credit monitoring service.
  • The free credit report does not include a credit score, which must be purchased. Each credit bureau offers several services, including reports and scores from the other bureaus. Typically it costs $15-$16 for a one-time credit report and score from a single credit bureau, or $30-$40 for credit reports and scores from all three bureaus. The three companies also offer monitoring services for $13-$40 a month ($156-$480 a year) providing ongoing access to the consumer's credit report and scores plus options like email alerts if there are key changes, daily internet ID scanning, automatic fraud alerts or ID theft insurance. For example, Equifax offers one-time reports and scores[6] for $15.95-$39.95 and monitoring services[7] for $12.95-$19.95 a month ($155-$240 a year).
  • All three credit bureaus offer a free or $1 deal for a credit report and score, but these typically require a credit card number to register and after a "trial" period ends the credit card is automatically charged a monthly fee for credit monitoring. For example, Experian[8] offers a "$1 credit score and report" but after 30 days the credit card is automatically charged $12.95 a month until the monitoring service is cancelled.
  • Other companies provide credit monitoring services. For example, Costco offers its members an IdentityGuard[9] program with monthly credit updates and $20,000 in identity theft insurance for $7.49 a month ($89.88 a year).
  • Running a credit check on potential tenants or employees can be done directly with the three main credit bureaus for their standard fees or through companies that specialize in obtaining credit checks and other information (such as criminal background checks) for landlords or employers. For example, YouCheckCredit.com[10] charges landlords $14.95 for a TransUnion credit report, $9.95 for an eviction report and $4.95 for prior address history verification; while MrLandlord.com[11] charges $59 for a site inspection of the rental premises, then two credit checks are free and additional checks are $9.95 each.
Related articles: Line of Credit, Refinancing a Mortgage, Closing a Home, Criminal Background Check

What should be included:
  • The University of Montana explains what is in a credit report[12] and the Federal Reserve Board provides an overview of credit reports and scores[13] , including what to do if there are errors in the report.
  • A potential tenant or employee must give written permission before the landlord or employer can legally run a credit check. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp explains when it is legal to request a credit report and score on another person.
Shopping for a credit report:
  • Some consumer advocates view a credit monitoring service as an extra layer of protection while others say it's unnecessary. FoxBusiness.com lists the pros and cons of credit monitoring, and explains how to choose[14] .
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External Resources:
  1.  www.equifax.com/home/en_us
  2.  www.experian.com/
  3.  www.myfico.com/crediteducation/whatsinyourscore.aspx
  4.  /www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
  5.  www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
  6.  www.equifax.com/compare-products/reports
  7.  www.equifax.com/compare-products/
  8.  www.experian.com/
  9.  costco.identityguard.com/
  10.  www.youcheckcredit.com/
  11.  www.mrlandlord.com/html/creditfaq.html
  12.  www.umuc.edu/
  13.  www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports/
  14.  www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/02/23/credit-monitoring-services-pros-cons-pick/
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