Call Don't Click: Consumer tips for retrieving your federally mandated free credit report
Before you call, click, or mail for your federally mandated free credit report, read these tips to help you avoid potential problems and pitfalls.
The simplest way of accessing your free credit report is to either call or to mail for the report. Please see the tips below for more information about these ways of accessing your credit report. However, if you do decide to retrieve your free credit report via the Internet at the official www.annualcreditreport.com site, please make sure you go to the correct site. You do not have to pay to receive your free annual credit report. If you are on a site that is asking you to pay for your credit report, double check the spelling of the site, or use the call-in and mail-in methods.
Here are some more details on how to get to the right site:
Online Tip: Beware of Imposter Domains
Check to make sure you are accessing the official annualcreditreport.com site. Many fake, imposter domains have been put up. These domains can be very misleading, and typically will not help you find your way to your federally mandated free credit report.
Below are two graphics. The first graphic is of a typical " imposter " domain. Note that only one letter is misspelled. The second graphic is of the official annualcreditreport.com site. Notice that the real site has an address that begins with "https:// ." This extra "s" at the end of the http:// means that it is a secure site. Compare the two graphics, then click here to access the official site:< http://www.annualcreditreport.com>. The FTC also has a consumer alert page with information about imposter domains: <http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt156.shtm>.
An imposter annualcreditreport.com site:
The real AnnualCreditReport.com site: (please note, some graphics on the real site may change .... look for the https: in the address bar, and double check the spelling of the address.)
Online tip: Do not use a library or public computer to access your free credit report.
Shared computers may inadvertently help share your credit report information with others. Only access your report online via your own computer, or a trusted computer.
Online tip: Giving An Email Address is Voluntary
Know that you are not required to give out your email address in order to obtain a federally mandated free credit report.
Phone and mail tip: Ask to mask all but the last four digits of your SSN
When phoning the toll free number (877-322-8228) for a free credit report,
ask that only the last four digits of your SSN are displayed. You will
be given this option during the automated ordering process. If you mail
in for your report, after you download the mail-in form, you will see
the following text in a box near the bottom of the page:
Phone and Mail tip: Get Your Report Mailed to a Secure Mailbox
If you call for your report or have it mailed to you, make sure your credit report is mailed to mailbox that you are certain is secure. Also see tip #4: ask to mask all but the last four digits of your SSN when the report is mailed to you. You will see the masking option on the form
The Annualcreditreport phone system is an automated system. When you call, expect that you will not speak to a live operator. The system uses the phone number you are calling from to confirm your identity (among other things), so if you have a home phone, this would be the best number to call from. You can call from other phone numbers and receive the report, but it may speed up the process to dial from your home phone.
Phone tip: If you have a long or complex last name, or have a strong regional accent, you may have trouble using the automated phone system.
We have received some complaints from people who have had trouble with the automated phone system. Some of the complaints are from consumers who had either very long or complex names, or those who had strong accents. If you have consistent troubles using the phone system, the next preferred method is to use the mail method. Be sure to see the mailing method tips.
Resources for Consumers
The Federal Trade Commission has a wealth of information about who may request a federally mandated credit report, and how. Please visit Your Access to Credit Reports at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm. Also see Your Credit Rights, also at the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/ycr_free_reports.htm.
To request your credit report by mail:
To request your credit report by phone:
To request your credit report online:
For the detailed World Privacy Forum report about www.annualcreditreport.com, see http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/wpf_calldontclickstudyfull.html
For the most recent updates to the report, check the Call Don't Click page at the World Privacy Forum:
Updates: July 8, 2008, January 4, 2008. June 27, 2007. June 5, 2006. May 26, 2005. Originally posted 2/ 25/ 2005.
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