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Free Credit Report: The TransUnion Flavor

Contributed by mm | December 3, 2004 2:55 PM PST

My report on getting a truly free credit report from Experian this week got a lot of attention from the blogsphere. Thank you for everyone who linked to my free-credit-report post! I feel I can add further value by test-driving other two services, so here I am, testing the TransUnion version of the free annual credit report. This time I am conducting the test under the name of my wife.

To get the free TransUnion report, one still needs to start at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. The first three steps are identical to what I discussed in the last post; you should not expect anything different or you may be working on a bogus site.

If you choose the TransUnion option, you will be redirected to the TransUnion web site and here is what happened in my test.

STEP 4. TransUnion asks me to create an account so it can store my credit report for future retrieval.

STEP 5. Once you move on, TransUnion will ask for user name and password. Notice TransUnion asks whether you want to buy your credit score for $5.95 more (fortunately the option is unchecked by default). If you pay attention, you will notice at the bottom of the sign-up form that by default TransUnion will add you to a "free monthly newsletter loaded with important credit education as well as valuable product offers provided by our subsidiaries and partners" -- you can uncheck this option if you don't like to be spammed.

STEP 6. Now comes the identity verification piece. TransUnion's process is way different from that of Equifax. It asks you three sets of questions: (credit card) account numbers, personal address history and year of birth. TransUnion seems to be no fan of multiple choice questions: it requires you to type in the specific account number and street address. What happened to me is I can never validate my current address (it turns out later that the address on file is a bit skewed). After several screens and keyin of two credit account numbers, year of birth and one street address, I finally got the credit report --

What is different from the Equifax report is some extra information about credit inquires. Besides the usual section about inquiries when you are actively seeking credit, TransUnion reports also includes:

1) "The companies ... received your name, address and other limited information about you so they could make a firm offer of credit or insurance." and

2) "The companies ... obtained information from your consumer report for the purpose of an account review or other business transaction with you."

Now, comparing my experience of getting the free annual credit report from both TransUnion and Equifax, I feel Equifax's process is more streamlined, although TransUnion's credit report edged out in terms of presentation and (some extra) content. If you are requesting your first report, I still suggest you go with Equifax, which will give you the freebie Credit Ranking. Enjoy!

(This post is part of PFBlog Product Review series. Check out more reviews here.)

This Post Has Received 64 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


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