According to federal law, every individual person is entitled to get their credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once per every 12 months free of charge. As such getting your once a year free credit report isn't terribly hard to do, but you need to know the proper channels to go through if you're going to get it quickly and without hassle. Additionally you need to know the different methods available and how much time they take.
Things You Will Need
Open your Internet browser of choice and go to annualcreditreport.com. If you don't want to use the Internet you could call 1-877-322-8228. Both of these methods will lead you to the only, official channel that's available through the government according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which governs the credit reports that you get once per year and which governs how the three major reporting agencies have to handle requests.
Fill out all necessary screens and provide all the information that you're asked for. A lot of it is personal information because that's what's necessary for looking up your credit report. However it's important to remember that this site and the methods offered there are the only ones endorsed by the United States
government for citizens to get their official credit reports from. If you fill out the forms online then your credit report is available for you to look at and review immediately, but if you choose to do it by phone then you could wait up to 15 days to see your report due to processing time.
It's important that you know what your credit is and that you build it up so that you can keep your score healthy. It's equally important that you eye your report with a critical look for identity theft or errors on the government's part. But remember to keep track of the days because you're only enetitled to a single, free credit report once per year under the law.
Tips & Warnings
Watch out for pretender sites which claim to offer free credit reports or free credit scores. Many of them are legitimate, but others may be trying to capture your personal information for uses that range from annoying email spamming to identity theft which can make you a victim and destroy your credit.