“Free” Credit Report? Watch Out!

There has been a proliferation of credit reporting and monitoring services popping up as a result of identity theft crimes.

Unfortunately, some of these firms are using what is often a moment of great anxiety following an identity theft incident to take advantage of the situation by pressuring people to pay for reports or services they don’t need.

Under the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003, victims of identity theft may ask one or more of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian) to place a free fraud alert on their credit report.  When you place an alert at one bureau, it must be forwarded by them to the others!  When you make a report, you can request a free copy of their full credit report to check for bogus transactions.  That report is in addition to the free report you are entitled to each year, available at annualcreditreport.com.

The FTC did a study recently that showed some credit firms are using deceptive sales practices and using misleading claims to push for additional services, like credit monitoring and ID protection at costs of $130 to $240 a year.  In addition, consumers have complained to the FTC that some of the credit reporting agencies were slow to act on disputed transactions and it took several tries to finally correct their credit reports.


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