Credit Reports -- Your Free Report Could Cost You
The growing prevalence of identity theft and increased concern about good financial health has led many consumers to seek copies of their credit reports online. Doing so is certainly laudable; the more you know about how potential creditors and lenders see you, the more prepared you can be when it comes time to apply for a loan or credit. An added bonus is that consumers can obtain one copy of their credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus once a year through the official Web site set up for such purposes at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Unfortunately, there are still many Web sites that exist for the sole purpose of tricking consumers who are seeking copies of their free reports. A quick Google search for the term "free credit report" today turned up no fewer than twenty four million sites in the search results. There certainly are not twenty four million Web sites that are going to provide copies of credit reports for free, so what is this all about?
It's about money. Aside from the "official" site, the others are there to profit, and they can profit in one of two different ways:
Sell you something - Some of these sites actually belong to the credit bureaus; they have set them up to give you the credit report while selling something else to you in the meantime. These sites will offer the "free" report in large letters, while telling you in smaller ones that by accepting the free report you are agreeing to buy a credit monitoring service, which can cost you -15 per month. The credit bureau-owned sites will also tell you that you can get your report for free at the "official" site. That is usually stated in fairly small print near the bottom of the page.
Steal something from you - Unfortunately, there are still many unscrupulous crooks out there on the Internet who see the interest in credit reports as the ideal way to steal personal information from people. Their sites will offer a "free" report, and perhaps some other services for which you can pay. But when you fill out the application and provide your name, Social Security number and credit card, you get nothing in return. Instead, the operators of these sites use the personal information to borrow money and take out credit in your name, leaving you to pay the bills.
If all you want is a free credit report, the best way to avoid this problem is to obtain it from the official Web site at AnnualCreditReport.com. Alternatively, you can call 1-877-322-8228 to receive your report by mail. That way, you can avoid being victimized by the thousands of Web sites that might cause you to pay dearly for your "free" credit report.
About the Author: ęCopyright 2006 by Retro Marketing. Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including http://www.End-Your-Debt.com, a site devoted to debt consolidation, credit counseling, payday loans and personal bankruptcy.