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Free Credit Reports
Old 03-04-2005, 05:31 PM   #1
 
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Free Credit Reports

Mandated by law, these companies are now obligated to give a free credit report. I checked mine and they do have a slight 'catch'. They'll give you the free report, but still want you to pay about $7 for the Credit Score. I just went for the free report. No suprises on mine.

Here is the link.

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-04-2005, 06:08 PM   #2
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Re: Free Credit Reports

As I understand it, you can look at the 3 agencies one by one. This lets you check one every 4 months, increasing your odds of catching problems.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-05-2005, 10:37 AM   #3
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Re: Free Credit Reports

It's amazing that they have a lots of personal info about you, such as driver license number, addresses, places of employment, telephone numbers, birthday. etc.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-05-2005, 10:43 AM   #4
 
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Re: Free Credit Reports

I am not amazed. I am surprised they don't have even more. And in fact, perhaps they do.

JG
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-05-2005, 10:51 AM   #5
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Re: Free Credit Reports

Oh they do, and there are other comapanies who combine aggregated data from your supermarket purchases, your video rentals, even your ATM purchases. In fact, I think about the only data that isnt personally sold and aggregated is if you pay for cash without any kind of card (warehouse, atm, credit, etc) and wear very dark glasses and a hat. Maybe some tin foil under the hat

What bothers me most isnt the aggregation, but that the data is frequently incorrect or incomplete, and gets swiped from time to time by the evil doers... :P
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-08-2005, 07:32 PM   #6
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Re: Free Credit Reports

A guy at work asked me about this site recently. I was naturally skeptical of any "free credit report" site as I've seen plenty of such offers which are really just an excuse for a lendor or broker to get your full credit report with your permission. But apparently this site was created by the big 3 agencies specifically to service the new FCRA law. A quick read through the privacy policy didn't scare me; I figure the people they say they're sharing info with they're already sharing info with.

I notice each agency site doesn't seem to mention it--at least prominently--instead offering an array of paid reports, but several sites seem to mention www.annualcreditreport.com as legit.

I saw somewhere that you have to actually type the url in for security purposes.

BigMoney the skeptic is off to order his credit reports now...
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-08-2005, 10:37 PM   #7
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Re: Free Credit Reports

No, they're for real. I downloaded all three last Dec (although I'm kicking myself now for not thinking of doing it every four months).

Every agency has a slightly different format and it's darn near impossible to read on-screen. Have plenty of printer paper ready...
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 03:53 AM   #8
 
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Re: Free Credit Reports

I don't get the attraction, unless you think there is a
problem to fix. Maybe it's because I don't borrow any money.

JG
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 05:05 AM   #9
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Re: Free Credit Reports

JG - You just might want to check your credit rating to find out if someone is borrowing money, etc after hijacking your identity - maybe that could put a slightly different spin on the subject.

If someone does hijack your info it can take years and lots of money out of your pocket to get back to normal. There are too many horror stories out there to ignore the identity theft warnings.

JohnP
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 06:55 AM   #10
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Re: Free Credit Reports

Quote:
I don't get the attraction, unless you think there is a
problem to fix. *Maybe it's because I don't borrow any money.
What? *I thought that you told us at least a hundred times how you kite your debt from one 0% interest credit card to another? *Isn't that "borrowing"?

Besides a bad credit rating will affect a lot of other things from insurance costs to being turned down for a job (not that that matters for the FIREd).
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 07:30 AM   #11
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Re: Free Credit Reports

I can't get mine until Sept b/c I live in the northeast. Oh well. I have a recent one anyway.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 08:14 AM   #12
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Re: Free Credit Reports

Three reasons why you want it; catching identity theft early, bad information and knowing how good your credit is before applying for a loan so you cant be kidded into thinking your credit isnt that good.

A lot of identity theft involves getting one or two credit cards or loans under your name and paying them off for a while until the identity is established. Without any past due payments or other problems, low likelihood you'll get tipped off.

The first time I ordered a credit report, mine had some accounts from my dads history on it, which as it turned out wasnt a bad thing as he has great credit. I probably got a few loans in my 20's at lower rates from that. I didnt bother fixing those. There was also a report from Sears that I had paid late twice; when checked that turned out to be an error and Sears fixed it after six months of headbutting.

Car dealers love to play the "sorry, your credit isnt good enough to qualify for our low advertised rate". When I got my last car loan 5 years ago, they pulled that "You dont qual for the 2.9% rate". When I dropped my credit report and FICO score on their desk and noted that my credit was in the top 1/10th of 1% in the US, that pretty much fixed that problem.

I got my free report through the annualcreditreport site, but my wife after many web site gyrations and a lot of wasted time was told she had to call to get hers. My bet is the recent name and address change. Do note every button you push, as they're trying very hard to sell you credit history insurance and 'buy your fico score' stuff.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-09-2005, 12:18 PM   #13
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Re: Free Credit Reports

I did this last night. You have to fill in name, addres, SS# and birthday at the main site, then it lists the three agencies and lets you check which one(s) you want to get reports from today. As Nords alluded to, some people recommend rotating the agencies and getting a report every 4 months. I chose to get all three now. You get one free report from each agency per year.

You click "next" and are taken to the first agency's web site. Later you click on "return to annualcreditreports" at the top to go back and move on to the next agency's site.

Each site is different, but each one gets some additional verification of who you are. One multi-choiced me about who my mortgage opened in 1992 was with. I was alarmed at first never having bought a house but noticed the "None of the Above" option which got me in. One site gave me a choice of answering to various account numbers or past addresses.

Each site tries to sell you add-ons like credit scores, advisors and keeping the report online.

Being a techie guy I prepared a print-to-file mechanism to capture my report in a file, but it didn't work quite as I wanted so I printed the reports, too. Nords is right: have lots of paper, and make sure your ink is not empty. Equifax I think didn't have all the info on one page, but there is a "print credit report" button on top that gives it all in one page.

One site made me set a username and password. I refused to give it my email address, so I'm not quite sure what the username was for. Another site asked me to make a username but let me skip it.

I wanted to check mine just to see what's on it now that I've paid off all my debt. I'm surprised at some of the old junk on there; I thought they dropped records after 5 or 7 years except for bankruptcies. I have some late pays more recent than I thought, and there is a collection on one of the agencies' reports that I vaguely remember as being the vendors fault.

As TH mentioned you can also phone in to get your reports or mail in a request form.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-10-2005, 06:49 AM   #14
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Re: Free Credit Reports

I pulled my free credit report as well, nothing out of the ordinary or unusal. The reason to look was for security/identiy theft problems.

Any thoughts on what information the credit reporting companies have, that is available to their paying customers, but not on the credit report that is available to us?

Also, any significant differences between the three companies?

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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-10-2005, 07:16 AM   #15
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Re: Free Credit Reports

We always check the three credit bureaus, as we have found on occasion that two of the three will be fine, but there may be an error on the third. (ie. we closed a credit card that we no longer used and the bank reported it as "closed by credit grantor" which gave it an incorrect negative reflection on our fico scores.)

Not a big deal for those who don't apply for credit, but for us when applying for mortgages for investment property, they take the midpoint of all three as your fico score, so one could drag it down.

We have reveiwed all three annually for several years including paying extra for the FICO scores and have found it informative, reassuring and interesting to say the least.

-TB.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-10-2005, 07:34 AM   #16
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Re: Free Credit Reports

Quote:
Any thoughts on what information the credit reporting companies have, that is available to their paying customers, but not on the credit report that is available to us?
I don't consider myself paranoid, but I imagine the credit agencies or a partner of theirs can combine the credit report we see with all public data like land ownership, car ownership, driver's license info (that was on one of my reports), SS#, court records and more with privately collected data from phone companies, store 'super saver" cards, airline records (especially frequent flyer clubs), employment history, and any corporate contest you entered. And probably more than that. Oh, and since they offer us credit scoring and analysis I'm sure they offer our predators--I mean creditors--analyses of our debt and spending habits and how best to market to us and what credit terms we accept that are most profitable. On the bright side, they've apparently figured out I don't respond to direct mail offers and hang up on telemarketers since I get much less of that than I used to.

I expect they're trying to figure out how to add anything we post on the internet in there, too. I doubt they can do it yet, although I expect if someone really wanted to they could find out what memberships I have on other bulletin boards by computer-analyzing writing style and stated opinions. And as was discussed on another thread it's not too hard to figure out who the real person is behind these posts if one is determined. Probably not profitable for companies to do it en masse yet, though.

Quote:
Also, any significant differences between the three companies?
For consumers' purposes, I doubt it. Experian--formerly TRW--was based in Dallas, so I think Texas lenders tend to use them instead of the others. Then again these days ordering up a consolidated report--at the our expense--may be more in vogue these days.
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-10-2005, 07:39 AM   #17
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Re: Free Credit Reports

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We have reveiwed all three annually for several years including paying extra for the FICO scores and have found it informative, reassuring and interesting to say the least.
Reassuring? My mother doesn't know some of that stuff about me, yet three nationwide agencies who sell my info do. Reassuring isn't the first word that jumps to mind.

Identity theft wouldn't be the same problem if there weren't national agencies tracking all info about us.

(Okay, maybe I'm a little paranoid. At least I'm not very interesting, so they collect data but no one cares to look at it. One version of privacy.)
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Re: Free Credit Reports
Old 03-10-2005, 08:06 AM   #18
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Re: Free Credit Reports

When we review our data, we can verify it's accuracy and that there aren't accounts floating out there we don't know about or that have inaccurate info. That is somewhat reasurring to us, for whatever it's worth.

The credit bureaus aren't the ones that really bother me actually. At least there is some sort of verifcation (arguable for sure) of who is requesting the data.

The ones that really worry me are the counties and states that have taken to pubilishing ALL of there public records online. Total BS. We're just making it easier and easier for identities to be stolen by UNIDENTIFIED individuals surfing the web.

For example, in our county: On the appraiser's we site you can look up who owns what properties, comparables, purchase price, liens (including mortgages and who holds them), etc. At least before you actually had to go to the county office to find this kind of data.

Then I can go the court website and look up any cases or filings against anyone for any reason. Even a speeding ticket. And how are they listed? By name and last four digits of your Social Security number!

All can be found without subscribing to anything or identifying yourself.

Ummmmmm, if you know where someone lives, their mortgage, how much they paid for their house (you can back into their payment amount) and the end of their social security number, aren't those many of the "security" questions asked

Credit Bureaus are the problem?

I'm not convinced that the stolen data isn't coming from those that want to do the regulating!
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Re: Free Fraud Alert
Old 03-16-2005, 03:37 PM   #19
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Re: Free Fraud Alert

I don't believe I have seen this mentioned in one of the threads but you can setup a free fraud initial alert by calling any one of the 3 credit companies. If you call any one of them, this will set up the alert with the other 2. This fraud alert forces the credit companies to call you anytime a bank or credit card company checks your credit when they get a loan or CC app. Unfortunately, I just found out that the "initial" version has to be renewed every 90 days.
They do have a free "extended" version that is good for 7 years but then I was told the most asinine excuse on the only way you can get it. You must first report credit fraud to the police to get a report, then the credit companies will give you the extended version.
Instead of easily helping the consumer prevent fraud for 7 years, you are forced to call every 90 days, how unbelievably stupid.

I found the easiest and fastest one to get the "initial" version was Equifax 800 525-6285

MJ
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