Know What's On Your Credit Report, It Can Protect You From ID Theft

A financial institution's customers don't always know what's available to them. Your job is to help them. Did you know that everyone is entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This once a year offer was made possible by a federal mandate to help stem identity theft.

Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

However, there are a few things to watch out for. When this was first rolled out, across the nation, there were some Internet scamsters out there lurking. They set up imposter sites that looked like the free credit report site. The imposters sat back and waited. Sure enough, some unwary users were drawn in. The Federal Trade Commission got involved to help shut down these sites, but they keep springing up like dandelions on a spring lawn.

If It's Free, Why Are They Making Me Pay?

If you Google "free credit reports" you'll come up with an entire page of sites that claim to be free, but really are either one of the scams mentioned earlier, or one of the three consumer credit reporting companies trying to get you to sign up for a subscription. These sly subscription services pitch "free" in their title, but the fine print at the bottom of the registration page says in order to get your "free" report, they need your credit card. Be aware-- you only want the free credit report, don't sign up for these subscriptions.

Free Credit File Disclosure for Certain States Some states - in addition to consumers who are eligible for a free credit file disclosure through the Annual Credit Report Request Service; consumers in some states are eligible for a free credit file disclosure under state law. The following states have laws that make free credit reports available to consumers: Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont.

The REAL Free Credit Report Site

Now, here is the REAL Free Credit Report site. This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion: Annual Credit Report .

(For the Internet Wary: If you don't want to order your report on line, you can either phone 877-322-8228, or send in a written request, and the information is listed on the website.)

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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