I recently did a national radio interview on the topic of Identity Theft. I thought I would pass along one of the "tips" I gave during the interview. Federal law requires that all three credit reporting companies provide an annual credit report at no cost. There is only one valid web site to use to request your free report:
There are a lot of other sites that promote receiving a "free credit report", but in reality all they are doing is trying to sell you something or steal your identity. Let me repeat: there is only one authorized site to receive your free credit report.
When you log onto the web site -- don't be alarmed when you are asked to provide your Social Security number. Yes, we need to protect that number, but in this situation it is required in order to obtain your report.
Another thing to be aware of – you will receive your free credit report but the credit reporting companies are not required by law to provide your "credit score". If you want to receive your score along with the report, you will have to pay for that service.
When you review your free credit report you are looking for any unauthorized accounts that have been opened in your name; any unauthorized loans in your name; any unauthorized activity on your account; and any information that is not correct. You will also be able to see who has run a credit check on your account.
If you have never requested your free report you will find it a very interesting document to look over. It will show all your credit cards, loans, mortgages, and payment history.
Since there are three credit reporting companies and each one is required to provide one free report each year, I recommend you request one report from a different company once every four months. This way you can "monitor" your credit report all during the year. If you order all three at the same time you will have to wait 12 months before you can view your account again.
While you are thinking about it, why don’t you go online right now and order one of your free reports?
To learn more about checking your credit report and protecting your good name – visit our resource center and purchase a copy of my book: Identity Theft (Moody Publishers).