Stephanie Izen recommends that consumers obtain their free credit report through the website http://www.annualcreditreport.com.According to Stephanie Izen, many individuals do not know that by law, once a year, they are entitled to get a free credit report from each of the “Big 3” credit reporting agencies (i.e. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The website http://www.annualcreditreport.com, explains Stephanie Izen, was created because of this legal mandate. Here, an individual can request his or her credit report via email, regular mail, or by phone. Stephanie Izen also notes that a consumer can request all three credit reports at the same time or can spread out the requests over the 12-month period. Stephanie Izen offers these tips:
1. Access the website by typing the exact name http://www.annualcreditreport.com into the web browser. Stephanie Izen warns consumers to beware of imposter sites with names similar to http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Searching the words “annual” “credit” and “report” will more than likely misdirect the consumer to one of these look-alike sites, says Stephanie Izen. If there are advertisements or promotions for credit checking services that cost money, then it’s not the right site, she cautions.
2. Do not access the website using a public computer, shared network, or via WiFi. Stephanie Izen explains that in order to get a free credit report, consumers must provide all of their personal information (name, address, birth date, etc.) as well as a social security number. The site has multiple layers of security and encryption, but Stephanie Izen suggests that consumers avoid accessing the website via a public computer, a shared computer, or via WiFi. Stephanie Izen recommends using a personal, secure computer to best safeguard this information.
3. Remember that a credit report and credit score are two different things. Stephanie Izen explains that a credit report is merely a record of an individual’s (or company’s) credit history. A credit history is all of a person’s past borrowing and repaying track record, including information about late payments and bankruptcy. However, says Stephanie Izen, because each of the Big 3 have their own way of doing things, a consumer’s credit report will differ from company to company. Monitoring a credit report allows a consumer to see what information is in their file. Also, adds Stephanie Izen, a consumer can see if there is any incorrect information or any fraudulent activity such as attempted or actual identity theft. If so, notes Stephanie Izen, the report gives the consumer information on how to fix the problem.
A credit score, on the other hand, is a complex mathematical model/formula that evaluates all of the information in a person’s credit report, explains Stephanie Izen. A credit score is a number that represents a consumer’s “creditworthiness,” according to Stephanie Izen. It weighs the risk a company takes when lending money or providing a service to the consumer against the likelihood that the person will pay back the money, on time. Stephanie Izen says that the higher the score, the less risk the person represents and therefore the more “creditworthy” they are.
More information, and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at the website http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
About Stephanie Izen
Stephanie Izen is a financial and legal “hybrid” – an executive leader who utilizes financial analysis, business acumen, and legal expertise to help businesses thrive. Stephanie Izen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.