With Sept. 1 around the corner and the last quarter of the states getting their free reports (details here)  and every other personal finance blogger writing about (with very good reason), this isn’t about how to get the free reports but how not to accidentally get the ones you have to pay for. For example, a few weeks ago Experian (one of the three reporting agencies) agreed to pay close to a million dollars  to settle a case in which they were accused of deceiving consumers into signing up for their $80 reports instead of the federally mandated free reports. You can imagine how many folks just didn’t pay attention and wound up paying for something they thought they were getting free.
The confusion was in the websites… the federally mandated free site is:
versus Experian’s site:
See how it can get confusing? The sites don’t look the same but if you’re looking for a free report, either one will show you a page you think will give you a free report. If you think you were duped, go to the FTC website  to find out more information. And when you type in the web address, double check that you didn’t misspell it because you might be getting a fake site out to scam you. (most misspellings are innocuous cybersquatters but just watch out)
Worse comes to worse, call them at 877-322-822 or write a letter to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.