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How to Get Two Free Credit Reports a Year

Short answer: Live in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Vermont.

Long answer: In the seven states listed above, there are state laws that that require the credit bureaus to provide your credit reports absolutely free. These laws are in addition to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (technically, it’s the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act which amended the FCRA) that requires the bureaus to provide your credit reports once twelve months, which you can access through AnnualCreditReport.com [3].

For example, in my home state of Maryland [4], you had the right to request your report every twelve months but you had to submit your request to the credit bureau directly. The new law created a central clearinghouse through which you could make your request, AnnualCreditReport.com, and this gave Marylanders a second look at their report, though you still have to make that request directly.

The easiest way to request it directly, which is a rule shared by all seven states, is to do it online:

This means that if you stagger your requests, you can review your report once ever two months. I don’t do this but if you really want to be on top of it, it doesn’t get any better than this. Couple it with TransUnion credit score monitoring through Credit Karma [8] and you will be the second to know if your identity is ever compromised (sadly, the first to know is the thief him or herself).