One of the lesser‐known, but plenty important, rights that every American is entitled to is one free credit report per year. Sure, it's not as glamorous or obvious as, say, freedom of speech, but being granted the ability to take a look at your credit history without any additional charge on your part can be enormously helpful. Not only that, but you're allowed one free report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus - TransUnion® , Experian®, and Equifax® - for a total of three per year!
What's the benefit in seeing your credit report? Regularly reviewing your credit report can play an important role in detecting identity theft. Should certain errors or potentially fraudulent items appear on your credit file, it's imperative to report those instances as soon as possible. The faster you can identify ID thieves and freeze them in their tracks, the less havoc they can wreak on your finances and credit standing.
Since TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax's services entitle you to only one report from each bureau every year, it may behoove you to space out the requests throughout the 12 months, so that you can stay apprised of your credit activity every quarter or so rather than all at once.
On the other hand, credit information may vary between bureaus - what a credit report from TransUnion looks like may not be identical to a credit report from Experian, for instance. By requesting all three at once and evaluating them together in one sitting, it may be easier to pinpoint any inaccuracies or errors in your credit history, than if you were looking at each report individually and removed from one another.
Checking your credit report for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com is certainly a great first step to protect your identity. But if you want even more peace of mind, consider a more comprehensive monitoring service such as Identity Guard® Total Protection® .
With Identity Guard, not only will you receive all three credit reports and scores* from all three bureaus updated quarterly, but you will also receive credit monitoring which can alert you sooner to certain changes that may indicate fraudulent activity. The sooner you know, the sooner you can take action to stop the thieves in their tracks. Identity Guard also includes Social Security Number (SSN) monitoring, ID verification alerts, credit application notifications, public record monitoring and identity theft victim assistance with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance** should you ever become a victim.