You're entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. But don't order them all at once - space your requests over the course of a year so that you'll always have the most current information on hand. For example, order your report from Transunion in February; your report from Experian in June and your report from Equifax in October. Then repeat the cycle each following year.

Order online from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.

One word of advice - a credit report does not include your credit score. If you want your credit score included with your report, a cost is involved. There is no need to pay for this if you simply wish to examine the items on the report.