There are three credit reporting agencies monitoring and gathering data about what you buy and how good you are about paying your debts, they are Experian, TransUnion, and EquiFax. You can go to each individual company and request your credit report or you can go to one place and request all three.

As a consumer, you’re eligible for one free annual credit report from each of these three credit reporting agencies. To make this an easy process for consumers, Experian, TransUnion, and EquiFax joined together to create the online resource, www.annualcreditreport.com.

From this site you can request (via mail, Internet, or phone) that all three credit agencies send reports at one time, or you can request one report from one agency at a time, such as every four months. The site states that there are benefits to either method: If you request them all at one time you can compare and contrast; however, you must then wait a full year before again requesting your free reports. By requesting one report at a time, you can request one every four months and have an ongoing understanding of what’s happening with your credit.

You’re always eligible to request a copy of your credit report; it just may cost you. To request your report, contact each of the following agencies:

•Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.alerts.equifax.com
•Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud
•TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

Note that your credit score is different from your credit report. There is a cost associated with obtaining your credit score, which is a number based on a mathematical equation that indicates your spending and payment habits and how likely you are to pay back what you owe. You also can request your credit score from the three agencies.