A recent survey indicates that only about 44 percent of Americans take advantage of the opportunity to order their free credit report for credit monitoring purposes. Many people aren’t even aware when a credit reporting error has occurred or when identity thieves have opened fraudulent accounts in their name. The U.S. government and the major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian have worked to provide easy consumer access to credit reports for greater consumer protection.
Credit Reports Absolutely Critical for Credit Monitoring
If you’re the kind of person who relies on your bank or credit card provider to alert you when there’s a problem with your credit accounts, you should know that it only takes an identity thief minutes to set up an account and charge thousands of dollars using your personal information. While your bank may be immediately alerted to unusual spending activity or purchases, there are many cases where theft goes undetected for months and is reflected on your credit report.
Without a way to check each of your accounts regularly, your bank or credit card provider could be scammed out of thousands of dollars over a period of time if a fraud alert is never triggered. Thieves are becoming smarter about how they steal and use personal identities and account information every day. A thief that examines your spending habits may charge on accounts in your area and get away with it for months if you aren’t a vigilant consumer.
Examining your free credit report regularly is the only way to determine if someone is using your existing credit accounts or has opened new lines of credit using your identifying information.
Obtaining Free Credit Report No Credit Card Needed
Many sites on the Internet advertise a free credit check or free credit reports only to require a credit card number to provide you with information. You as a consumer are already entitled to a credit report FREE OF CHARGE, however. If a company claims to provide you with free credit scores or free credit checks, but asks for a fee upfront for this information it’s important to understand what you’re actually paying for. Many companies do provide legitimate information or services along with a free credit report, but all websites are not what they are purported to be.
Free Yearly Credit Report—Yes It’s Really Free!
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports, the U.S. government agreed to give consumers greater access to their personal credit files held by each of the three major credit bureaus. By doing so consumers can have greater control over their finances and credit decisions. To obtain a free credit report online by using the consumer website, www.annualcreditreport.com consumers may order one credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies online free of charge, once every 12 months.
Many people choose to stagger their requests for a free credit report by ordering one credit report from a different agency once every four months. While not every account or lender will report information to each credit bureau, much of the information maintained by individual credit reporting agencies on the yearly credit report will be the same.
Get Your Free Annual Credit Report Today!
Once you begin monitoring your own free credit score report you can take back control of your financial situation and correct any discrepancies in your consumer profile that could adversely affect your credit report. While many people rely on their bank or credit card company to report information about their payment history or credit usage, they should also exercise their right to obtain their credit report for free and check for errors, theft or inaccuracies.