By Candice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Now that it will be easier to find your free credit report, you may be curious about who else can see it and how it can be used.
Starting Friday, a new Federal Trade Commission rule will require Web sites advertising free reports to direct consumers to the government-approved www.annualcreditreport.com. TV and radio ads must do the same starting Sept. 1.
The problem is that these ads typically don't disclose that the advertised free reports are part of a package of services that can cost as much as $14.95 a month. Consumers may not realize they can get free reports with no strings attached.
Once a report is in hand, however, it only raises a slew of other questions. Here's what you need to know about credit reports and scores.
THERE'S MORE THAN ONE FREEBIE A YEAR
Let's start by clarifying when you can get free credit reports.
You're entitled to a free copy every year from each of the credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Off the bat, that means you get three free reports a year.On top of that, you can request free reports if you're the victim of identity fraud or unemployed and looking for work. In the latter case, the idea is that you should know what's on your report in case a potential employer wants to pull it. You're also entitled to free copies if you think your report has errors or if it's ever used against you.
So if a bank turns you down for a loan based on a report, it's required to disclose where it got the report so you can request a copy.
Reports from the three agencies should contain pretty much the same information, but differences can arise when lenders don't provide data to all three.
And despite the official-sounding names, credit reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus, are for-profit companies.