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1/28/2007 Timing Issues

As you probably know, you can get a free credit report yearly at This is mandated by the federal government. You can get one per year per each of the 3 credit agencies.

Note the ambiguity in that last statement: one per year. A reasonable interpretation of this is one per calendar year; i.e., one in 2005, one in 2006, one in 2007. I thought that this would be the case because of the way they rolled out the free reports across the country in 4 phases; the first 6 months, only the Eastern part of the country could receive their reports, then it expanded from there. I can't remember the exact rollout plan, but it doesn't matter. The point is that there were set dates when you could get your reports, according to where you lived in the US. Somehow this led me to believe that the "annual" thing was based on the calendar year.

But noooo. They apparently mean that there must be a year between each credit report. Since I didn't really need it in 2006, I purposely waited till the end of the year to obtain my free reports, thinking that I could get them in 2007 whenever I wanted. But I recently tried to pull my TransUnion report through; due to a minor issue, I wanted to see if something had come up as a new inquiry. However, it wouldn't let me. It said that I already had obtained my report. I last pulled my TransUnion report in November of last year.

So clearly they aren't basing it on calendar year. I assume (will have to wait until November to find out for sure) that they are basing it on the amount of time from one report to the next. So, the take-home lesson here is that your free "Annual" credit reports are only "annual" if you get them at the same time every year. By waiting longer between free credit reports, you are putting off the earliest time when you can get your next free credit report. Your "year" resets each time you get the free reports.

Hope that helps somebody.


Stephanie said...

Timeliest post ever - you've already helped somebody. I was chatting with a friend about getting his credit report for the second year in a row (his year is up in two days), and your post popped up in my feedburner. You answered our question as soon as we asked it! How did you know? =)

SM said...

As a person who lives Maryland, I get two per year, but I never knew how they would determine it. One every 6 months? Two of these "one year after the last one" cycles?