Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – March 4, 2013 – In a recent study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, it was found that one in five consumers had an error on at least one of their three major credit reports. In addition, one in four of these consumers were able to identify errors that might affect their overall credit scores. As a result of this study, the Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to check their credit reports on a regular basis for potential errors to avoid putting their pocketbooks and financial health at risk.
“Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers are able to request a free copy of their credit report through annualcreditreport.com from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – every 12 months,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Verifying information contained in credit reports on a consistent basis is a great way for consumers to avoid financial and identity fraud, as well as correct mistakes before they have a major impact on their credit score.”
Additionally, BBB is reminding consumers to be aware that no one, including a credit repair company, can magically clear a negative report. There is no fee that you can pay to remove accurate information from your credit file. Thus, all the company can do is charge you for something that you can do yourself for free.
Your BBB offers the following tips for verifying information contained in your credit reports:
- Do not access the Annual Credit Report Request Service through links from unfamiliar websites. If you receive an email or a pop-up ad claiming to be from AnnualCreditReport.com or any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. To help ensure the privacy and protection of your personal information, visit AnnualCreditReport.com directly to request your free annual credit report either by phone, mail or online. AnnualCreditReport.com will not approach consumers via email, telemarketing or direct mail solicitations.
- Avoid companies that claim they can improve your credit for free. Consumers need to be wary of companies that make claims regarding credit repair. These companies, commonly called credit clinics, don’t do anything for consumers that consumers cannot do for themselves at little or no cost. Beware of any organization that offers to create a new identity and credit file for you.
- Consider pulling your credit reports on a quarterly basis. While you can pull all three credit reports at once, you can also consider pulling your credit reports quarterly. Pulling reports separately allows you to better monitor your reports and keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report. If you pull all of your reports at once, you won’t be eligible to pull your report for another 12 months.
- Monitor your child’s credit report. As child identity theft remains a national problem, it is just as imperative to pull your child’s report as it is to pull your own. While the credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children, you can contact the credit reporting agencies directly and they can run the report.
- Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report. Inaccurate information can lower your credit score and may indicate possible fraudulent activity. If you find information that you believe is inaccurate, you have the right to dispute it free of charge. Go directly through the reporting agency you pulled your report from to file your dispute. As you dispute errors and if you report fraud, keep meticulous phone logs and copies of all of your correspondence. For online submissions, keep screen shots of your requests and any email confirmations you receive from the bureaus. In your log, track the date you spoke with someone, the name of the person, and what he or she said. These notes may prove valuable if you have trouble resolving your issues with the bureaus or creditors.
For more helpful information on credit reporting and repair and identity theft, visit www.bbb.org. To obtain information on receiving your free credit reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 114 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.