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The Truth About Online Credit Reports

Mar 18, 2008
So many people are worried about identity theft and the status of their credit report these days. But with so many companies claiming to offer you a free report, it is no wonder consumers are confused and overwhelmed about how to get the information they need. The truth is many companies are not entirely interested in giving you a free credit report, as they are in making money off of you with their other products and services. How does a consumer know where to turn for the information they need?

The Federal Trade Commission is Your Friend

The Federal Trade Commission, a Federal agency set up to protect consumers, is the only place online that offers a truly free credit report through Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can receive reports on your credit every 12 months with no strings attached. Consumers often times are not even aware that they are entitled to review reports on their credit at least once a year, much less get it from a government agency.

Pitfalls to Getting Your Credit Report

Other companies will entice you to their website by stating you will receive a free credit report. Once at the website, you will often times find that you have to buy other products or services before your report will be issued to you. That's great, if you are interested in the other products and services, but most times consumers just want to see their credit records only.

You may see ads on television or the Internet, or hear ads on the radio from companies offering free credit reports. Be alert to the fact that when you visit the website you might be obligated to buy additional products or services before receiving a report on your credit status. The FTC receives many complaints from consumers who have fallen into this credit report trap. In fact, they encourage you to report any spam websites that you come across.

How to Get Your Free Credit Report

The FTC advises consumers that you cannot get your free credit report directly through Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You must contact these companies directly through the FTC website. Simply type in "annual credit report" and look for the official website in your search engine. There are many websites that will have a similar name to this one, so be sure you are on the correct website by typing your search carefully. The site will guide you through the appropriate steps to receive a free report on your credit status.

Consumers typically type in search phrases such as "free credit score," "free credit history," and other similar phrases only to land in a website that wants to sell you something you don't need. Avoid using these searches in the future to avoid spam websites.

You can get your annual report on your credit status for free. You can keep a watchful eye on your credit history in these days of high identity theft rates. You just have to know where to go to get the information you need.
About the Author
Gene Pimentel is the author of "Identity Theft Trap" and other informative
personal finance publications, freely available at his resource site
JustCreditReports.com and
IdentityTheftTrap.com
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