For the first time in my life, I checked my free credit reports online.
I have wanted to do this for the longest time—years and years—but never got around to it. Finally, today, October 4, 2014, I finally took the plunge.
At first, I was going to use my iPhone 5(c) and order them, but as I started the process I received an ominous message that my private information might be at risk because of WiFi. I did not want to risk having somebody access my social security number or other intensely personal information, so I fired up my Mac.
Now, I also use WiFi whenever I use my laptop, and I thought that this would cause my personal information to be at risk like my iPhone would, so I plugged my Mac into my WiFi box which is connected to my cable router, turned off my WiFi on my Mac, and hopefully, this gave me the secure connection I needed.
Like most of us, I’m concerned about identity theft and feel fortunate, that as far as I know, I have never been a victim of this crime. No one can be cautious enough to insure that our personal information does not fall into the some criminal’s hands.
Next, I logged onto annualcreditreport.com. Since I never accessed this website before, I was suspicious about it, on the alert that it might be one of the infinite amount of scam websites that purport to be one company and end up being a portal to yet another scam. You might think I’m paranoid, but again, you can’t be too careful when you intend to input your social security number into certain websites.
After doing a bit of searching to satisfy myself that annualcreditreport.com was a legitimate site, I began the process of filling out the information. Since I hardly ever give out my social security number to anybody—much less inputting it into a website—I was hesitant to do it here. But sometimes you have to do what your instincts tell you that you shouldn’t. This was one of those times.
You have the Federal right to get a free copy of your credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. One of the reasons I never did this in the past was because I hate doing the required complicated paperwork and filling out forms in order to obtain the information. I thought that the process for getting my credit report would be painful, time-consuming, and complicated.
I was wrong. The process was fairly simple. What was more surprising was the instant access I had to two of the three reports after I filled out their required information; the third one required that I mail them a filled-out form to receive the report back by mail.
What you don’t get when you request your free credit reports is your credit score, a critical piece of information that virtually everyone wants to know. Fortunately, I receive my score free with my monthly credit card statement I receive from Discover, saving me the price of getting it from another company.
These reports go into some detail of your past financial decisions: mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, etc. They also tell you who has requested to see your credit reports: credit card companies, debt collectors, banks, auto insurance companies, etc.
If you have never obtained a copy of your credit reports, I encourage you to do so. One of the problems that you can hopefully solve is incorrect information that might be on your report that is responsible for dragging down your score. This in turn affects your ability to purchase items on credit, obtain a mortgage, buy a car, rent an apartment, or a myriad of other purchasing options.
Thankfully, no unexpected surprises jumped out at me as I studied my reports. I was surprised to see that the debt collector who is falsely accusing me of owing a debt requested to see my credit report in 2013, months before his law firm eventually sued me.
Since I have a decent credit score, he may have used this information to decide on whether or not to come after me. If I had a terribly low score that signified I’m not responsible in paying off my debts, he may have decided I was not worth pursuing. But now, this bottom feeder looks on my responsibility in paying my bills as a target worth pursuing.
I plan on writing more on this continuing saga with this debt collector later.