Question: Where can I get an annual free credit report? Thanks. Myra, Pineville, NC 

Answer: By federal law, you can get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureau for free once a year. There is only one authorized provider of the service:

It's the only authorized service for your free annual credit report. In other words, ignore all the cable TV ads, radio come-ons and junk emails offering you "free" credit reports. They're looking for victims who will buy another product or service. 

You can get all three reports once, which makes it easy to compare the data. However, many people like to set it up so that they get get one report every 4 months. Spacing the reports out allows you to monitor what's being reported about your credit throughout the year. 

Follow Chris Farrell at @cfarrellecon