BBB reminds consumers of free annual credit report
Better Business BureauFebruary 22, 2012 | 4,343 views | Post a comment
Start the New Year knowing your credit is in good standing and your credit report is accurate. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can receive a free copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion -- every 12 months.
“Pulling your credit report annually is a smart way for consumers to understand their financial health, as well as avoid financial and identity fraud,” said Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas, and the Permian Basin.
Many television advertisements and websites claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring.” However, the BBB reminds consumers that www.annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized source for free annual credit reports under federal law.
Additionally, the BBB reminds consumers that a credit report is different from a credit score. A credit report is a snapshot of your credit use history, which gives a lender a view of whether you pay your debts back or not. Your credit score is a number which shows lenders how much of a risk you are in paying back a debt.
The BBB offers these tips for pulling your annual credit report:
•Do not access the Annual Credit Report Request Service through links from unfamiliar websites: If you get an email or see a pop-up ad claiming it’s from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message.
To help ensure the privacy and protection of your personal information, go to annualcreditreport.com directly to request your free annual credit report either by secure website, phone, or email. Annualcreditreport.com will not approach consumers via email, telemarketing, or direct mail solicitations.
•Consider pulling your reports quarterly: While you can pull all three credit reports at once, you can also consider pulling your credit reports quarterly.
Pulling your reports separately allows you to better monitor your reports and keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report. If you pull all your reports at once, you won’t be eligible to pull your report for another 12 months.
•Pull your child’s credit report: As child identity theft remains a national problem, it can be just as imperative to pull your child’s report as it is to pull your own. While the credit-reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children, you can contact the credit-reporting agencies directly and they can run the report.
•Avoid companies that claim they can improve your credit for free: The Federal Trade Commission cautions consumers to be wary of companies that make claims regarding credit repair. These companies, commonly called credit clinics, don’t do anything for consumers that consumers cannot do for themselves at little or no cost. Beware of any organization that offers to create a new identity and credit file for you. For more information on credit clinics and a list of warning signs, visit www.ftc.gov.
•Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report: Inaccurate, derogatory information can lower your credit score and may indicate possible fraudulent activity. If you find information that you believe is inaccurate, you have the right to dispute it free of charge.
Go directly through the reporting agency you pulled your report from to file your dispute.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit www.bbb.org.