Seen those catchy FreeCreditReport.com ads? Pretty funny, eh?
The funny part is that although it is there to allow you to see your credit report from the top three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — the site is actually owned by Experian. So once you go there you will be exhorted repeatedly to sign up for one of their pay services.
On Friday, March the unlucky number day, I was surfing the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) web site looking for scam alerts, and I found out the following
AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law.
Pretty interesting. It’s AnnualCreditReport.com, and not FreeCreditReport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – every twelve months.
The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. Go to the authorized source when you request your free report.
So if you’re looking for a real free credit report start by:
- Visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com online.
- By phone, you can order your free credit report by dialing 1-877-322-8228.
- By mail you can download the Annual Credit Report Request form (PDF) from AnnualCreditReport.com and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
AnnualCreditReport.com even has their own commerical spot which pokes fun at the better known FreeCreditReport.com ads.
Best Way to Check Your Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Most people order all three at once, but a better approach is to spread them out or stagger them. That is, don’t get them all at once; instead, order one from one agency in January, then from a different one in May or June, and then from a different one in September or October. Then when the new year begins you can repeat the process. This allows you to montior your credit report all year round.
No matter how you request your report, you have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately, you can monitor your credit more frequently throughout the year.
Why should you request a credit report?
Because the information in your credit report is used to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and renting a home, you should be sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. In addition, monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to spot identity theft. Check your credit report at least once a year to correct errors and detect unauthorized activity.
What should I look for when I review my credit report?
If you see accounts you don’t recognize or information that is inaccurate, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider. For more information, read the FTC’s tips on how to dispute credit errors.
Lastly, if you suspect identity theft, you may need to place a fraud alert on your credit report, close compromised accounts, file a complaint with the FTC, or file a police report. Start by visiting the FTC’s identity theft website.
Check back here at Skylarking for more scam info. Next up: Free Government Grant and Economic Stimulus Scams on TV and Online. You can also watch the FTC news conference on these scams which was recorder earlier this month.