Get a free credit report every four months!

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572

My owner is a Realtor with Century 21 Award in Mission ValleyWe all know how important credit is to our lives and even our livelihoods. The lack of credit has significant adverse effects when a business can't get a loan to finance ongoing business operations. In our personal lives, we can often do without credit until we need to buy something big, like a car or a house.

Because credit is important to us, our credit scores are equally important. Those credit scores come from three credit reporting agencies:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

Credit scoreNo one really knows exactly how they manufacture those credit scores, kind of like the ActiveRain points system probably. We do know that certain things can affect those scores significantly:

  • Having too many credit cards -- I had a Client turned down for a home loan because she had 51 credit cards, even though the amount of credit she was carrying was a mere 4% of her available credit.
  • Too much available credit -- This was also a reason listed for the previous Client's denial.
  • Too much debt; balances too high -- This results from maxing out your credit cards.
  • Too much recent activity -- This often results from going on an extended vacation but can also result from illegal activity from a stolen credit card or credit card information, as well as from identify theft.

Credit in the trashIt's important that you monitor your credit, credit scores, and your credit reports from the three reporting agencies. Federal law recognizes this importance by allowing you to get a free credit report every twelve months from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

Many people will tell you that you can get a free credit report annually, but it's important to understand that there is a difference between "annually" and "every twelve months." Most people consider "annual" to be a calendar year from January through December, so they wrongly believe that if they got three free credit reports in September 2009, they can get three more free ones in March 2010. That's not the way it works.

Rather, you're entitled to those free credit reports "every twelve months," so if you got them in September 2009, you'll have to wait until September 2010 before you're eligible to get them again.

However, there's a better way to use your three credit reports. I recommend checking your credit score every four months since you can do it free. Here's how:

Since you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies, let's start today, September 14, 2009, and get the first one from Experian.

Excellent credit scoreIf you do that, here are the dates to get your other free credit reports:

  • January 14, 2010 - free credit report from Equifax
  • May 14, 2010 - free credit report from TransUnion
  • September 14, 2010 - free credit report from Experian
  • January 14, 2011 - free credit report from Equifax
  • May 14, 2011 - free credit report from TransUnion

And so on.

The information is 99% the same on all the credit reports with the only differences being format, wording, and scoring, so you can monitor your credit better by using this system.

I would like to thank the kind lady at Washington Mutual's credit department several years ago for pointing this out to me when we were having credit problems due to identity theft. Unfortunately, Washington Mutual was a victim of the upheaval in the banking industry and is now Chase, a bank that I don't particularly like.


Jim Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award Mission Valley
California DRE License #01458572


Buy your own piece of paradise in San Diego County.

I can help you find the best just the right home or just the right buyers
to meet your real estate needs, wants, and goals.

I'm available 24/7, so feel free to contact me by phone or email.


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Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

Keeping up with your credit report is very important task to manage credit in today's world. Not to mention managing identity theft.

Sep 13, 2009 11:08 PM #1
Toula Rosebrock
Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ - Lacey Township, NJ
Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township,


Hi Jim:

Great information! and very important information!!!

Everyone should take advantage of the free information and mark their calendars! 

Sep 13, 2009 11:15 PM #2
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I can't believe that I'm still up working on the computer. Not only that, but I can't believe I'm reading comments in my own blog!

I grew up learning to have just one credit card and paying it off each month. When I went to buy a home with my then-boyfriend, I didn't have enough credit, so we bought the home in his name and then quit claimed his interest into the interest of both of us. That taught me, though, not only the importance of credit, but the importance of actually using credit. Having 50 credit cards laying around with credit lines totalling $200,000 doesn't seem to do as much good as having 10 credit cards with $100,000 credit lines and $10,000 in balances. It's a weird system, but then so is the ActiveRain points system -- LOL.

Now I'm going to bed. Don't no one call me until about noon, unless you need to buy or sell a home.

Sep 13, 2009 11:20 PM #3
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Just don't sign up for free credit  They will start charging you.  Ben Stein was fired from the Times because of his advertising for this company.

Sep 13, 2009 11:24 PM #4
Moshe Cohen
Valuation Solutions - Morristown, NJ


Do they have your score on the free reports?

Sep 13, 2009 11:40 PM #5
Janice Roosevelt
Keller Williams Brandywine Valley - West Chester, PA
OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker

Jim: I wondered how often you could get a report without them "dinging" your score for asking

Sep 14, 2009 12:21 AM #6
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Thanks for sharing your insight, your suggestion on getting a credit report every 4 months from a difference company is excellent.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 14, 2009 01:58 AM #7
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate

Hey, Jim. I can't agree with you more. Evaluating your credit report often is one of the best things any one can do. Thanks, Jim

Sep 14, 2009 06:26 AM #8
Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage - Brampton, ON
Our Family Wants To Help Your Family!

Hey Jim, when we listen to the news up here it sounds like nobody south of the border has any credit, so why do you need a credit report.

Sep 14, 2009 12:36 PM #9
Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

Hi Jim - That is very good information. I never thought about that. I usually give free credit reports to my clients when they ask for it. But I am going to bookmark this page and e-mail it to them. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 14, 2009 05:14 PM #10
DriveBuy Technologies
DriveBuy Technologies - Austin, TX


Great advice here. Not enough people know they're entitled to this. I used it right before I got my new Corolla last month, and it was a lifesaver. The report, however, is not the same as the score. I believe you have to pay for the score, but I may be mistaken. 


Sep 15, 2009 05:00 PM #11
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Jim - My husband had someone try to scam him by claining that he owed money he didn't owe and threatening to sue him.  He checked just one of the reporting agencies at my suggestion, then we worked on correcting the confusion and got rid of the phony collectors, then we requested from another agency to see if it got fixed.  It did.

It is a good idea to check your credit periodically to make sure there isn't a mistake or an ID theft, but you should also note that the FICO score can be obtained only with a small fee, even though the rest of the report is free.

Sep 17, 2009 12:36 PM #12
Dave Sullivan
Real Estate One - Birmingham, MI
Michigan Realtor with an investor viewpoint

Good info if you would like to watch me order my free credit report and find out how to get your real FICO score for free watch this

Jan 26, 2012 11:58 PM #14
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Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
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