Posts Tagged ‘TransUnion’

Purpose of a Free Credit Report

Free credit reports are almost as common as bread and peanut butter. The explosion of offers in this regard does not replace the possible need for paid monitoring services.

However, obtaining your free credit report is your right. This is your right as of an amendment of the Free Credit Reporting Act of 2003.

The main reason this new amendment of the FCRA was added by the government to ensure that all Americans have the right to stay informed. This gives people an opportunity to learn what the three credit reporting bureaus are saying about you.

All this is done without you having to pay for it. This has been done to help combat identity theft, since fraud and errors on credit reports are so common today.

The goal of this new government act is to ensure that Americans have the right to stay informed about what these three credit reporting bureaus say about then. Yet, at the same time it gives them the right to do so without having to pay for the information.

Obtaining your Records

You can request a free copy of your credit report within a 12 month period from one of the major financial bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

If you don’t really plan to subscribe to the service, it is important that you cancel the trial subscription, or else it would automatically be billed to your account. In that case, you should remember the termination date of your trial period.

You can also get your files at Annual Credit Report.com. This is one of the safest and most reliable locations to obtain your free documents. This site is actually regulated by the federal government and it also is monitored by the three credit bureaus.

You also can find these documents via other websites. You should make sure that it has the official saying that indicates you are not at the Annual Credit Report.com site.

Your Rights

You should be able to obtain your free credit report without any hassle. You can report a private monitoring service if they try to make you pay for these documents.

Now, you should beware that you do not get a free credit score, but only a free credit report. Therefore, you still have the chance of experiencing hassles in that way.

At the same time, you should make sure you take advantage of what you are entitled to and do not have to pay for up front. The only time you really have to pay is if you seek out additional credit alert and monitoring services other than the free ones provided by law.

Introduction to Credit Monitoring Services

Too often you hear the complaint that a credit monitoring service is billing whether the customer wants the service or not. This is a shame, and it is ironic that one of the reasons you want the service is to find and remove erroneous debt items on your report.

One common solution to this is to use a debit card rather than a credit card when you purchase a service. If a service continues to bill after you’ve finished with the service, you can always cancel the debit card.

Canceling a credit card can have a negative impact on your credit file though. Using a debit card saves you this headache.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Oftentimes credit monitoring services are considered an expensive waste of time. Oftentimes you can accomplish just as much towards fixing your credit on your own not spending any money.

On average, a credit monitoring service will cost about $10 per month, per report. It is true sometimes that can monitor your own credit report for less than the average cost of these services.

However, sometimes people like the peace of mind of hiring a professional service and/or online software to do this action for them. Besides, you may want to receive reports from all three agencies at once.

With many monitoring services all three reports are included, but you may be required to request all of them at once. At the very most it could cost you about $36 a month or $432 a year to do this, unless of course you receive discounted prices as mentioned above (approximately $10 per month).

Regardless of what you pay, what you would receive for that $432 per year varies. It depends upon the services that you choose. However, in general you can expect that you’ll be alerted if someone applies for new credit.

You also have the luxury of being told if something suspicious turns up on your credit report. Most monitoring services also come with identity theft insurance that will help you recuperate the costs necessary to repair any errors that occur.

You also have the option to use one of a variety of identity theft services. On the other hand, you can monitor your own credit report even for as low as $8 per report.

You may have to do a little bit more work when you monitor your own report. However, you can save some money.

On the other hand, many people find that the expense of a monitoring service is much easier. They would rather pay this extra fee than monitor their own credit reports.

F.A.Q.’s of Free Credit Reports Fraud Alerts

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.

A Brief Profile of Annual Credit Report.com

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.

Background Info

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.

Services Offered

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 Three Credit Bureaus: A Short Profile

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.

Some History

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.

The Purpose of a Credit Bureau

A credit bureau can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. They provide information to individuals and businesses as well as banks, landlords, employers, and other institutions.

This is a list of some of the reasons that a credit bureau exists:

  • It helps monitor a person’s financial history. This is part of what determines a person’s creditworthiness. This is one of the first steps towards getting a loan-examination of a person’s credit report and credit bureaus hold this information.
  • Another purpose of a credit bureau is to verify the existence of a credit or loan applicant. This helps store owners, banks, and even colleges and employers know that they are dealing with who they are dealing with.
  • Credit bureaus help combat identity theft. Often alerts are placed on credit reports to help prevent further unauthorized action. Certain portions of a credit report may be blocked when this happens. In other words, one role of a credit bureau is to protect consumers.
  • Organizations such as Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian are also around for another reason. These organizations prevent creditors from trusting in people who are not responsible with money.
  • Another reason that credit bureaus exist is for recording-keeping. These organizations keep track of all your spending as well as all your major purchases and other inquiries. They also keep track of your financial obligations and how timely you make your payments.
  • Another reason that organizations such as the ones mentioned in this article exist is to help repair your financial history. Being able to improve your credit history is one incentive to make better financial decisions.

Using your Credit Report

Often people seek a free credit report to help them come to terms with changes that need to be made. They also do it to make sure there is no activity that counts against them that has resulted from charges they did not authorize.

How to Correct your Credit Report

Correcting inaccurate information on your credit report can help you immensely. The first step would be to check the expiration date of the records.

Then, you can create a dispute letter and send it to all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Before you do so, you probably will need to take other steps to analyze your credit though as indicated in the following steps:

  • Order your free credit reports from all three bureaus, of which you are entitled one copy per year. Print each out and review it carefully.
  • If you spot any information while reviewing printouts of your credit report spot any inaccurate information that could have an effect on you. You should be particularly concerned if it causes a decline of your credit score.
  • Documents you can use while you examine the accuracy of your credit report include as follows: Bankruptcy filing records (items marked “BK” for up to seven years), charge-off notes (notes indicating creditor has wrote off your debt as a loss), and collection records (usually remains on your record for up to 7 years after the last 180 day late payment).
  • You can also take a look at closed accounts. These expire after 7 years as well. Closed positive accounts might remain on your record for longer.
  • Foreclosed accounts, inquiries, judgments, late payments, repossessions, and tax liens, also affect your credit. You should take a look at any records concerning these very carefully.
  • Once you have examined all your records carefully, this is when you would possibly file a dispute. You can submit your dispute to Equifax and TransUnion by mail, and you can do the same but only online instead of mail when using Experian.
  • Once your dispute is submitted, then you can let the credit bureaus investigate. You can track these results, as all three financial bureaus have a responsibility to investigate claims made by you within 30 days.

Free Credit Report: How Valid is it?

Most people are used to getting charged for everything that they are surprised when they hear that you can actually get a free credit report. This is mainly because of recent legislation passed that allows you one report every 12 months from all three credit bureaus.

There is one site for sure where you can get free credit reports. This is called Annual Credit Report.com. Here is where U.S. citizens can obtain one disclosure of their financial records every 12 months from these three agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

You can also seek information at this website as well as at the Federal Trade Commission website on how to report fraud. There is a such thing as an initial fraud alert which stays on your credit report for at least 90 days, and the extended alert lasts up to seven years.

There are numerous other sites that claim to offer free credit reports. However, most of these are seven-day free trials with very ambiguous terms of services and cancellation policies. There are some exceptions of course.

Beware also that you should not have to pay to put a fraud alert on your file. If you are for some reason being required to do so, you are being ripped off. Beware of this according to your federal rights.

If you want to learn more about your rights as a consumer you can read the  This info about the Fair Credit Report Act or you can visit the Federal Trade Comission website.

Brief Word from the FTC about Free Credit Reports

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alerts consumers about access to free credit reports. This information pertains to the fact that according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months.

However, you should also know that you are actually entitled to one report from each of the three agencies, not just one report total every year. Therefore, you can receive a copy of your payment histories and other vital financial records as kept by Equifax, Experian, and TransUninon.

Additional FTC Guidelines

In addition to the above, you are also entitled to the following:

  • Accuracy and privacy of the information kept about you
  • The right to know if someone has stolen your identity
  • Immediate access to your credit report if you file online
  • To receive your requested report within 15 days if you want it mailed to you
  • Right to a free report if you are unemployed and looking for work within 60 days
  • Right to investigation in case of an error
  • Opportunity to dispute your case when necessary
  • The right to know if anyone has obtained an unauthorized copy of your financial records

FTC Function

The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent consumer fraud. They also fight against unfair and deceptive business practices, including false advertising. They also help consumers remain aware of problems and thus teach buyers and sellers to avoid being a victim of fraud.

The FTC also helps people file complaints in the event a company or individual has wronged them in some way. This organization deals with all types of consumer-related scams, including falsified records, fake credit report fraud, and credit card identity theft.

Consumers Beware!

The Internet has given rise to many fraudulent websites claiming to offer you a free credit report instantly. While some of these sites are very helpful, you need to watch out for any sign of a stolen identity.

WARNING: If you seek a credit report instantly online, make sure you know whom you are dealing with. This is especially important if you are signing up for a free trial of a credit monitoring service.

Remember, you should know what you are getting yourself into and who you are dealing with at all times. This is not to make you paranoid but rather to make you aware.

Use the Internet with caution when seeking a free copy of your financial history. Your financial future greatly depends upon taking proper precautions.