Free Credit Search: 3 Things To Beware Of

There is such a thing as a free credit search, but there are also many imposters out there ready to steer you away from the real deal. The U.S. Congress mandated a program through which consumers can get a copy of each of the reports used by the top three credit reporting agencies for free. However, there are plenty of scams out there trying to take your money instead.

1 – False Websites

There is only one true website approved by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to offer the free credit reports. This site is called AnnualCreditReport.com. Any other site, no matter how official it looks, is a scam.

There are unscrupulous companies who have set up sites that collect your personal information as you enter it, thinking that you are entering it into the government’s official site. These scammers may also ask you for a credit card number.

Once they have this information, the sites will either put false charges on your credit card, enter you into a “credit monitoring” or “credit information” service for which they charge your credit card, or they simply take your personal information and take out credit in your name.

Since the official site is sponsored by the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – the website does not look like an official government website. However, it explains the program fully, gives official phone numbers, and can be verified at the FTC site.

You should either type the address of the site into your browser bar or link to it through the official FTC site. Do not access the site through an email link or a link from any other page on the internet.

2 – Add Ons from the Credit Reporting Agencies

Once you do find the correct website, you have to enter your personal information three times; once for each of the top three major credit reporting agencies.

You may request all three reports at the same time in order to compare them, or you may decide the space the requests out through the year so that you can catch any fraudulent activity during the year.

Whatever you decide to do, once you arrive at the screen where you are requesting your credit search from one of the companies, you will be offered a variety of additional services from the credit reporting agency.

These may include a copy of your FICO score, a credit monitoring service, or a credit “cleaning” service.

None of these services are required. You may get the impression that you are required to give your credit card number or sign up for one or more of these services in order to obtain your credit report, but you do not.

The free annual credit report is absolutely free.

3 -  Using the Same Name

There are scam companies that use the name, “Free Credit Report” but are not in any way connected with the government program.

Instead, when you sign up through these sites, you are enrolled in a monitoring program or you pay for a credit score – often at a higher price than you would pay if you contacted the credit bureaus directly.

Beware of all online sites beginning with “free.” The government-approved site starts with “annual,” and does not use the word free anywhere in the web address.

Avoid sites that sound similar but are not the official government site. None of those credit reports actually end up to be free.



View all 3 of your FREE Credit Scores

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