It seems that everywhere you look someone is offering you a free credit report, the opportunity to repair your credit, monitor your credit score, and everything else associated with personal credit. If you are a consumer who is trying to obtain a free credit report, the experience can provide to be daunting to say the least. After all, what offer is legitimate? Which way is the right way to go about it? Who do you believe?
According to the Fair Credit Report Act which was enacted in 1971, every consumer is entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus which include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The problem is that many consumers do not how to go about getting a free credit report which is completely free and this is where the scammers and imposters jump on board with “supposedly” free credit report offers.
If you are one of the consumers who is unsure about how to go about getting a credit report at no cost, here are a few pieces of knowledge which will help to prevent you from getting scammed.
A Free Annual Credit Report by Government Law is Completely Free
To eliminate the confusion caused by information overload, there are two ways that you can obtain a free annual credit report completely free with no strings attached. 1) You can choose to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus mentioned above separately and request a report from each or, 2) You can opt to use the centralized website at annualcreditreport.com to obtain your personal credit report from all three credit bureaus using one request.
Many Free Credit Report Sites Are Not Actually “Free”
By human nature, most people are drawn to the word “free” and the people who are looking to cash in know this. For this reason, the Internet has become inundated with hundreds of websites claiming to offer you a credit report completely free of cost. Although they know they cannot get around the fact that you can request a free annual credit report by government law, they can find other ways to manipulate the situation so you end up paying a fee.
Let’s say you find a website online that is offering to send you your credit report at no cost if you simply enter your name and email address. Once you enter your name and email address you find out that there is more to the story as they request your mailing address and credit card information. The claim is that the credit report is free and the credit card information is requested to provide you with a free trial to other services.
The problem with this arrangement is if you forget to notify them at the end of the free trial period, you end up paying out money for a service you don’t want. Additionally, the company now has all of your personal information including your social security number.
Be Aware of Redirects, Domain Suffixes, and Misspellings
Most of the websites online have strings attached and are not mandated under the FCRA Act to offer you a free credit report as described above. Others will mislead you by redirecting you to a fake website, changing the suffix in the domain URL, or slightly misspelling the name of the website. All of these tactics are barely noticeable unless you know what to look for.
A redirect happens when you type in a website address in your browser or click on the website link on the search results page. Then you are redirected to a completely different website and in most cases, without your knowledge. Instead, keep your eye on the URL address bar at the top of your browser window. If it quickly switches to another address then you are being redirected to a different website.
Website owners can also mislead you by changing the domain name suffix which follows the dot in a domain name. For instance, if the legitimate website is free credit report.com, you can be misled by a website owner that uses the domain name, free credit report.net. You can avoid this by becoming familiar with the actual domain name of the legitimate website.
Earlier we mentioned that the official website for the three credit bureaus is annualcreditreport.com. To mislead you, a website owner offering a free annual credit report may use the domain name of anualcreditreport.com. The slight discrepancy in the spelling is barely noticeable to an unsuspecting user.
These are three ways you can avoid being misled by the numerous offers which are out there on the Internet. Although some of the offers are well explained and legitimate, it is important to stay informed so you can avoid giving out your personal information to a potentially unscrupulous organization.
e Eq edit reporting bureaus which include Eq uifaxing to say the least.d om each bureau to be certain