It’s a new year and a good time to take advantage of a free service offered by the three major consumer credit reporting bureaus.

Every 12 months, consumers are entitled to receive one free credit report each from Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. There is no fee for this service which is available by visiting No, this is not the same service you see advertised on TV. Unlike that other website, is authorized by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and is truly free.

Your credit history, as reflected on the credit report, determines your credit score which is used to qualify you for consumer loans, determines the premium rates you pay for insurance and allows you to open accounts for phone and other services. It is therefore a good idea to monitor your credit history given the impact it has on your ability to qualify for these important financial products and consumer services.

A good strategy is to not request reports from each of the credit reporting companies all at once but to stagger these over the course of the year. That way you can monitor your credit periodically during the year and avoid having to wait a full 12 months to catch any changes or reporting mistakes.

Good credit is important to your overall financial well-being. Take advantage of this free offer made possible by federal law to help you monitor how credit bureaus are tracking you and avoid unpleasant surprises when applying for that mortgage or auto insurance coverage.