Beware of free credit report sites


Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:09 p.m.
A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
But there's only one online source authorized to do so. That's annualcreditreport .com. Beware of other sites that may look and sound similar.
The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers who order their free annual credit reports online to be sure to correctly spell annualcreditreport.com, or link to it from the FTC's Web site to avoid being misdirected to other Web sites that offer supposedly free reports, but only with the purchase of other products.
While consumers may be offered additional products or services while on the authorized Web site, they are not required to make a purchase to receive their free annual credit reports.
The FTC has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report online. Some consumers responded to TV ads, e-mail offers, or simply searched online.
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one central Web site, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
To order, click on annualcreditreport.com, call (877) 322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga. 30348-5281.
Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually.
The FTC recently settled a lawsuit against Consumerinfo.com - which did business as Experian Consumer Direct - over the "free credit report" promotion it advertised on television, radio and the Internet, including its Web sites freecreditreport.com and consumerinfo.com.
If you ordered a free credit report from Consumerinfo between Nov. 1, 2000 and Sept. 15, 2003, and were enrolled in its credit monitoring program, you may be eligible for a refund under the FTC's settlement.

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