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Beware Free Credit Report Scams

At long last, those of us on the East Coast can finally order a free copy of our credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus. The free credit reports were ordered by Congress two years ago when it passed a law to reduce the incidence of identity theft by encouraging people to regularly check their credit reports for signs of suspicious activity.

If you are going to order your reports online, the only Web site you need to know is AnnualCreditReport.com. Most of the other 1.5 million sites out there that come up when you search for "free credit report" either will require you sign up for their costly credit-monitoring services, or are designed to scam or bilk consumers.

According to my colleague Caroline Mayer's informative story from today's paper, the FTC said earlier this month that it had identified 130 impostor sites that may be trying to mislead consumers. From Mayer's piece: "Consumer groups that have monitored these sites say many either charge a fee for a free report or, worse, try to collect personal information that can be used to commit future identity theft. The story notes that many of these sites have been designed to look like the officially sanctioned site and some have sound-alike names or Internet addresses that are very similar, off by only a letter or punctuation mark, to take advantage of any misspellings or typos."

At the very least, if you misspell www.annualcreditreport.com while typing it into your browser address bar, you may soon find yourself at a site that charges well above what the credit bureaus themselves traditionally charge for credit reports. Type "www.abnualcreditreport.com", for instance, and you will be redirected to www.nationalcreditreport.com, a company operated out of Boca Raton, Fla. that charges nearly $35 for a copy of your credit report.

Mayer's story says that even if consumers go to the correct Web site, there are still problems, according to the complaints received by the FTC: "The 2,100 complaints received by the FTC from consumers "is a large number of complaints considering the system has been in place only since December 1, 2004, and has not been available to the entire country," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, which has been monitoring the free-credit-report program."

Caroline conducted a Live Online chat with washingtonpost.com about this issue earlier today; a transcript of that chat is available here.

By Brian Krebs  |  September 1, 2005; 11:52 AM ET
Categories:  Latest Warnings  
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Comments

Those of us on the East Coast get free credit reports even before the AnnualCreditReport.com came on Sept 1st, which contradicts the first sentence in your story.

I live in New Jersey and ordered my free credit report from two major agencies in August 2005.

TransUnion:1-800-888-4213.
Free Credit Report

htts://www.experian.com/freestate/

Posted by: Suresh Chitra | September 1, 2005 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I have yet to find an honest reporting service you start file out their forms and by page 3 at the latest you are entering into contract $65-$95 per year for the "free credit reports" The next thing that shows up on your credit report is an application for a credit card which was denied due to poor credit history. now the fun begins getting this bogus application off your record. In two case I had to resort to leagal action agaist the company to get them removed and just a change in verbage over why I was turned down.
My actual true score from all three major companies averaged 776 out 800 possible.

Sincerely
Dr. Yiskla Adiakia'hanna

Posted by: yiskla@charter.net | September 2, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Krebs,
Thank you for your timely comments. I was recently the victim of a credit scam company that managed to bilk me of about $80 before I discovered what they were doing. Fortunately, my good credit rating remained intact.

Rickard N. Myers

Posted by: dkmyers@gol.com | September 2, 2005 7:10 PM | Report abuse

to Brian Greg's

Sir I am from national credit report.com
Recently you wrote about us on one of your blogs.
Please attempt to do what you said as no one is misdirected to our site.
Your comments are slanderous and at least deserve an apology. Lastly check prices we are below the average.
As a writer you should check your facts.

Posted by: AJ Larkin | September 8, 2005 8:12 PM | Report abuse

AJ,

Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. There is and was nothing wrong with my facts in that post. I'd be happy to show you logs of that misspelled domain name redirecting to nationalcreditreport.com. As far as I can tell, www.abnualcreditreport.com still redirects to nationalcreditreport.com. What exactly is it you feel was wrong about my post, other than your claim about pricing? By the way, I don't believe I suggested that there was something illegal about your operation, at least nothing that would border on slanderous (I believe you mean libelous, by the way).

Posted by: Brian Krebs | September 8, 2005 10:47 PM | Report abuse

wow. Maybee i do owe you an apology.
last night when I tried that link you refered to it did nothing. Today it did what you said.
since than I went to see owns that url web site you reffered to. It says no one owns it and it is vacant. I dont understand but have called a meeting today with our programers to learn more and will update you.
But there is still one part of your story that needs clarification. We charge 12.95 for a credit report with a free credit score. Not the 35 dollars you posted.

Posted by: aj larkin | September 9, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I think it's also important to understand the different between Credit reports and Credit Scores. While the score gets much more attention, it really is just a summary of your credit history, found in your report.
Much like others who have posted here, I had problems getting my "free" report as well. After I navigated the troubled waters, I created a website of my own and posted all my findings on www.FreeCreditReportJournal.com to help everyone understand the basics of credit. And no, there's nothing to buy on that site . . .

Posted by: Matthew Mamet | August 5, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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