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Q: I need to get my real credit reports, but I already got them for free around Thanksgiving. Can I get them again for free, or do I have to wait a whole year?
A: It depends.
You can get one credit score from each of the three major bureaus for free one time each year. That means at least three free real credit reports each year.
So, if you only got one of free credit reports already (say from Experian, but not TransUnion or Equifax), you can get a free report from one or both of the other credit bureaus today.
Alternatively, some people may also qualify for a second free credit report if they meet certain criteria. If you don’t meet the criteria, however, you can only receive one free credit report per bureau per year.
Criteria to Receive an Additional Free Credit Report
There are several situations in which you can receive an additional free credit report.
If you were recently a victim of identity theft, you are legally entitled to a free credit report.
You may also receive a free credit report if you are on welfare, are unemployed and planning to look for a job within 60 days, or if a company has turned you down for employment or credit based on your credit report. You must ask for it within 60 days of when you are notified.
Paying for an Additional Credit Report
If you have already received your credit report from a certain bureau within the past 12 months, and none of these situations applies to you, you must either wait until the rest of the 12 months has passed, or pay for your credit report.
By law, the credit bureaus are not allowed to charge more than $10.50 for a credit report. So you can expect to pay around $10 for an updated credit report.