The specter of identity theft and cyber malfeasance can loom large over a person’s credit score for decades. While you may have been able to recover your funds after an erroneous transaction, your credit report may still reflect the missed payments and criminal activity perpetrated by a cyber criminal. In other cases, the credit report itself may be hijacked and misrepresented to prevent you from obtaining a loan. Regardless, you should keep abreast of their current credit situation to make sure your records are accurate. Many free credit reports are offered online which quickly allow you to monitor your credit status. However, some free credit report providers are scam companies hoping to steal your credit information rather than report on it.
How to Check Your Credit Report Free
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), all individuals are entitled to a free credit report from any of the three major bureaus. The three agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion must provide a copy upon request every 12 months. The individual can request the report through one of three channels, phoning toll-free at 1-877-322-8228, going online at annualcreditreport.com, or completing the free credit report request form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Free Credit Report Scams
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website on the internet federally mandated and authorized to provide credit reports to consumers. Any third party site that offers a free credit report is typically a scam site hoping to retrieve social security numbers and other pertinent information. Users should also be aware of impostors who attempt to take advantage of typos and common misspellings of the URL.
Credit Inquiries and Credit Score
Contrary to popular belief, using the free credit report service does not lower your credit score, as it constitutes only a “soft” credit pull. This is in contrast to lenders who may trigger a “hard” pull which directly affects your credit standing. The free credit report score also differs from FICO, the three-digit number lenders use to gauge your overall loan worthiness. However, the standard credit report score is taken into account by the FICO formula, making it a vital piece of your credit qualifications.