Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free credit reports!

I've mentioned before that I get a almost daily email from "Everyday Cheapskate". It really has good information, here is some I received today. This is something many ppl wonder about, so I thought I would share. BE sure to check out her site, there is even more great info on it, and you to can subscribe to her free newsletter!

A recent rash of mail from readers complaining that they are unable to get their thrice-yearly free credit report tells me I have not done a good job of teaching you the tricks of the trade.Credit bureaus gather credit information on individuals like you from a plethora of sources. There is nothing that makes this process illegal. Your creditors willingly submit all kinds of personal information about you, including how much you spend with them and how you pay your bills.The content of your credit file constitutes your credit report. Think of it as a rap sheet. It's all the things that others are saying about you and your behavior with credit and money and it is estimated that 70 percent of all credit reports contain factual errors.There are three major credit bureaus that gather information on individuals (
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), plus another, Innovus, that mostly gathers information on businesses.Until a few years ago, these credit bureaus were allowed to charge a fee for an individual to see his own credit file. Law now requires that these credit bureaus furnish individuals one free report per year. Legislation required that the bureaus set up a method by which consumers could easily access their free reports.The credit bureaus were not too thrilled about this, as the law dried up a good portion of their income stream. It appears that in complying with the law, they came up with ways to keep that income stream flowing, even to the point of tricking consumers into paying for credit reports anyway.The bureaus did comply with making reports accessible by creating Think of it as a doorway through which you must pass if you wish to get your free reports. Once through, consumers are taken to their selected bureau's website. If you do not enter through, you will end up paying for your free report.Being transported to any one of the bureau's websites is going to present a bit of a minefield experience. If you are not diligent in turning down all the offers to get something more than your one free credit report, you could find yourself at check-out giving your credit card number. Keep saying "no" to all offers until you get what you came for. You don't want credit monitoring and you don't want your credit score. There is always a charge for your credit score. Only your credit report is free once annually.Don't get nervous when you are required to give personal information including your address and Social Security number in the report-requesting process. They have this information already. Without it, they have no idea which report to deliver out of the hundreds of millions they have on file. They need this to match you to your file. They may also ask a few questions to make sure you are not a thief looking to break into a credit file in order to commit fraud.So how can you get your free credit report once every four months and not just once a year? Remember, there are three big credit bureaus. Don't get all three at the same time. Stagger each request by four is the only official website to help consumers obtain their free credit report. You can also call (877) 322-8228 or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
Other related articles by Mary Hunt:"Get Your Free Credit Report""How to Build a Great Credit Score"

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