Archive for May, 2010
Fraud alerts and free credit reports are requested all the time. Consumers who are in search of them now may have questions about these services offered to people.
What is the purpose of a free credit report?
People request them for a number of reasons. One of the main ones is to make sure they have no unauthorized purchases on their account. Another would be simply to monitor payment histories and to analyze in order to create a debt repayment plan.
How do I get a free credit report?
It can be obtained online at websites such as Annual Credit Report.com. It can also be requested by phone or by mail.
How long does it take to get a copy of my credit report?
You can usually get it almost instantly online. If you request it by phone or mail it takes up to 14 days to receive it.
What is a fraud alert?
It is a notice that is placed on your credit report to alert those to whom you owe money. This lets them as well as credit bureaus know that there may be unauthorized charges or unauthorized usage of your account.
How to I place a fraud alert on my credit report?
You can call one of three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) by telephone. You can also go to the websites of each one of these major credit bureaus.
Should I get an initial fraud alert or an extended fraud alert?
It depends upon the seriousness of your situation. The initial fraud alert stays on your file for 90 days and the extended fraud alert stays on your file for seven years.
What are my rights as a consumer seeking a free credit report or a fraud alert?
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report at least once every 12 months. Information is provided by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. More info about this can be found at Annual Credit Report.com, the FTC website, and within Fair Credit Reporting Act documentation.
This of course is only a very small list of the concerns associated with protecting your identity and analyzing your financial history. You can seek answers to further questions if you call the appropriate customer service hotlines.
Furthermore, more detailed instructions are provided by more than one public service or legal service entity. This is to ensure your rights as a consumer are protected in case you notice a problem.
Sometimes when seeking a free credit report it helps to learn a little bit about the resources available to you. One of these is Annual Credit Report.com.
Annual Credit Report.com is a company that was created by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These are the three major nationwide credit agencies that are in compliance with federal guidelines set once the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was passed in 2003.
The main objective of Annual Credit Report.com is to provide consumers with the one free credit report they are entitled to once every 12 months. Information presented in this complementary document would be provided by one of the three major credit bureaus mentioned above.
People who request documents from Annual Credit Report.com are presented them in a very speedy manner. They can obtain them very quickly-in much less time than they would if they have requested them by telephone or mail.
In addition to request of a instant free credit report, this free service started by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion offers much more. You receive information pertaining to all questions people have about receiving credit reports.
Additional assistance provided by Annual Credit Report.com includes this:
- Simple provision of information for people who want to learn how they can place an identify theft fraud alert on their file
- Referral to rules and regulations for consumers set by the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Answers to questions about security when seeking a free credit report
- Information on how to only receive an online report but how to receive one by mail or phone
- References to information as well as basic answers about prevention of further identity theft action
- Information about access to credit reports for vision impaired individuals
- Provision of fraud alert contact information of all three major credit bureaus
The credit score is a number based on credit report statistics. It is a brief account of the creditworthiness of a person and it helps determine whether that person is eligible for financing. It also is necessary to determine how well a person is at paying off monthly obligations.
Usually the number of a person’s credit score is based on information on file with certain credit bureaus. It is a number that is often used by lenders such as banks and credit card companies to determine how credit worthy a person really is.
Other companies that use a person’s credit score to determine how trustworthy they are with money include the following:
- Mobile phone companies
- Insurance companies
- Internet service providers
- Retail stores
In just about any situation such as when a person applies for a “90 day same as cash” loan to pay off furniture a credit check is often done. This often requires a look at a person’s credit score in order to determine if a person could truly pay off a loan within 90 days.
The most common and most valuable credit score interpretation is FICO. This is a number that typically ranges from 350 to 850. The number 723 is the median FICO score for Americans, and is considered above average/excellent.
Anyone that has a credit score ranging from 620 to 640 is considered a person who has a pretty good credit. Anyone below 620 is considered someone with fair to poor credit.
This FICO number is based on a variety of aspects such as:
- Outstanding debts
- Debt to income ratio
- Number of open accounts
- Number of inquiries
Other types of credit scores used today are the Experian PLUS scores which range from 330 to 830 and the VantageScore which ranges from 501 to 990. The concept is pretty much the same as the FICO number range and it is a measure of a person’s creditworthiness.
It may interest some people to get a profile of the three major credit bureaus in the United States. This is mainly to get to know the agencies in charge of keeping your credit report on file.
This is a very brief history of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. It gives you an idea of where they are located and such and how they got started.
TransUnion was first created in 1968. It was founded by the Union Tank Car Company. Its role as a credit agency took place after the purchase of the Cook County Credit Bureau in 1969.
Today the TransUnion Credit Union is based out of Chicago, Illinois. It operates 250 offices in all.
Experian is actually known as a “credit informational group” according to Wikipedia. It was started in 1980 by John Peace in Nottingham. It has over the years (since 1996) acquired agencies formerly known as TRW Information Services, Bain Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners in 1996.
Then, in 1998 Experian acquired CheetahMail. This was a business founded in 1998. Experian is the one that offers the Triple Advantage (SM) Credit Monitoring services. They still require a credit card number for a free credit report but are now complying with the FTC as far as providing free credit reports.
There was an issue back in 2005 during which time it was found out that Experian violated FTC rules. Apparently they were not within-and are still not within Federal Trade Commission rules-because of the fact that they require a credit card number from consumers to receive it.
Equifax is actually the oldest of the three agencies. It was founded in 1899 and is today responsible for over 400 million credit accounts worldwide.
Equifax (formerly Retail Credit Company) especially started to grow in the 1920s and the planting of offices spread throughout the United States and Canada. By the 1960s it has held files for millions of Americans and Canadians.
Of course, just like other credit agencies this one has had its share of dirt dug up about it. There has been a fair share of rumors and inaccuracies pertaining to consumers that were said to be retrieved by Equifax over the years. This has to do with fact that this credit bureau was sued for getting too much into people’s private lives in order to make their situation worse.
All in all though, we still have to deal with Equifax as well as the other two bureaus (TransUnion and Experian). They can either be our friend or our enemy. Most of the time though they are there to help consumers and any problems with these credit bureaus should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.