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"Free Credit Report" Scam
The credit report scam originated in the United States. It was first noticed in January 2005.
Ironically, the Credit Report Scam takes advantage of individuals trying to monitor their credit reports to protect themselves from identity theft.
The SCAM will bait victims by sending them an e-mail advising them that they can receive a free credit report to protect themselves from identity theft. The fraudsters pose as legitimate businesses helping consumers get their Credit report.
Victims responding to an e-mail or by visiting the criminal's website, thinking it is the place of legitimate business, will complete an online form to receive a credit report. The victim will provide information such as name, address, date of birth, social security information, etc, to receive the report. As this information is typically required to receive a legitimate credit report, the victim is not suspicious.
The fraudsters then have the very exact information that they need to assume the victims identity, open up accounts, commit credit card fraud and more. The victim is told that the report will be mailed and is none the wiser.
What to Know
If you are going to order your free credit reports online, the only Web site that is authorized by the Free Credit Report Program is www.annualcreditreport.com, which at the moment seems to be down... Most of the other 1.5 million sites out there that come up when you search for "free credit report" either will require you sign up for their costly credit-monitoring services, or are designed to charge customers, or worse yet-steal their identities. The only ones that we suggest you to trust (but you have to pay a fee in most cases) are www.equifax.com, www.creditexpert.com (Experian) and www.transunion.com, as they are the three main Consumer Reporting Agencies authorized to keep and process your credit report.
With all the hype about monitoring your credit report to prevent identity theft, individuals are responding. In the process of doing so, consumers are bound to respond to these e-mails and come across these imposter sites.
This scam was noticed around January of 2005. As of September of 2005, there were 130 known sites that were being monitored. It is likely, there are many others.
The credit report scam has been directly linked to incidents of identity theft and account fraud.
What to Do
If you believe that you may be a victim of the Credit Report Scam, do the following:
Consumer Reporting Agencies
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com, P.O Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), www.experian.com, P.O Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com, Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Thanks to Brian Koerner - About.com