Action Line: Did you know that the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that each of the three major reporting agencies to provide you with a free credit report on request at least once a year? These agencies include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the FCRA.
Your credit report will include information such as your name, how you pay your bills, where you live, any bankruptcies that may have been filed as well as whether you have been sued for anything.
To request your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.
You can order your report from all three companies at the same time, or you can request your report from each of the three agencies one at a time. The law allows you to get a free copy of your report once per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies – again, once every 12 months.
Don’t be tempted by imposter websites. The FTC advises that only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law – annualcreditreport.com.
Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.
In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.
Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By exercising your right to a free credit report annually, you can help protect your identity. Don’t risk letting someone else use your private information to commit fraud. Get your free report today and every year after that!
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or email@example.com.