Where to get those Free Credit Reports...

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Identity theft is often exacerbated by the fact that consumers typically don't review their credit reports. As reported data breach numbers continue to rise and thieves continue to find ingenious methods to hijack, and then sell our personal information in various underground chat rooms, one thing is for certain, there has never been a more important time for us to obtain our credit reports and find out what lies within them. If we don't get control our our credit - someone else will.

It's unfortunate, but In my opinion consumers continue to be placed in the role of unpaid quality control experts, basically working for free as a type of credit bureau employee. After all, we are the ones required to monitor and fix a product (our personal information) that they sell for a hefty profit.

If consumers bare the burden of inspecting and maintaining their product -shouldn't those who profit from our information be held accountable for the accuracy. Selling a substandard product  -is harmful to consumers. When a credit report is contaminated with erroneous derogatory information -we then must pay higher interest rates and steeper insurance premiums -and these days have little to no access to credit. When it comes to fraud and/or inaccurate credit reporting, -a consumer is presumed guilty, until proven innocent -and that can be costly.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) is a federal law that forced each of the nation's credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) to provide one free annual credit report from each bureau. Unfortunately, FACTA didn't force them to publicize how we can take advantage of this right.

This oversight has led to abundant advertising for a variety of free credit reporting sites that aren't really free at all. Those so-called free reports come with strings -you must purchase other services.

Can you think of the last time you heard a public service announcement or advertisement that directs you to the official site or phone number to obtain your credit reports?

Probably not. And that's why I provide it here.

Here's where you can get your really free annual credit reports.

   1. Call 877-322-8228 and order it over the phone - This is an automated line and toll free. You can order one from each of the big three credit bureaus in one call -or stagger them and call every four months and order one at a time. Many advocates believe that this is the preferred method because the privacy policy for phone orders is much better than the one for ordering on the official website.

   2. Visit the AnnualCreditReport.com website - This will give you immediate access to your credit report but there are certain privacy risks. Be alert to any typos in your browser that will direct you to a fake site. Additionally, while there, if you find yourself on a page where you are asked for a credit card number, back out and start over...chances are you clicked on a wrong link.

Your credit reports will come with a dispute form. Once you have a chance to review your credit reports and find any erroneous information, whatsoever, dispute it on the provided form and return it to the bureaus via certified mail. The number one complaint consumers have when dealing with inaccurate credit reports -is their inability to clean it up.

For more info see a few earlier blogs:

Complaints against credit bureaus costly, frustrating and endless

Court Ruling; Credit Reporting Bureaus must Revamp their Systems -and Remove Old Debts...

Why do consumers sue the credit bureaus? Consumer Attorney shares his expertise.

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