The pandemic has given bad guys new opportunities to steal people’s identities. That’s why Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are offering consumers free, weekly credit reports until April 2021. Normally, it’s once a year.
To pull free credit reports go to AnnualCreditReport.com, a website created by the FTC. When a report is requested, it’s provided instantly via a PDF. Credit scores are not included.
Security expert and president of the Kerskie Group, Carrie Kerskie, says you risk having your information sold or shared if you request your reports on a different site
What to look for
A single credit report can easily be 50 pages. Multiply that times three, and the material can come across as intimidating.
But Kerskie says to focus on three sections: Basic information, accounts and hard or regular inquiries.
“Two sections people often miss, and they’re the most important, are your name and address,” Kerskie said.
If there’s anything unusual, dispute it directly with the bureau.
Next, head to the accounts section.
“An easy way to skim for it is see where it says ‘date account opened,’ or either ‘date account closed’ or account status,” Kerskie said. “That way, it’ll let you know if it’s a current account.”
For incorrect account information, call the creditor.
The last stop is hard inquiries, or what TransUnion calls “regular inquiries.”
“If you know you have not applied for anything credit in the past six, 12 months but you see something in there in that time frame, that means someone has used your identity to apply for a credit,” Kerskie said.
Issues regarding inquiries should be resolved with the creditor.
How to put a freeze fraud
If you don’t plan on applying for a line of credit anytime soon, Kerskie says to put a credit freeze on your account. Freezes prevent bureaus from releasing your report to new creditors. To do this, contact each bureau directly.
Kerskie adds, in the state of Florida, parents or a guardian can place a credit freeze on a minor’s credit report, but that it must be done in writing to each bureau. The forms for Experian , Experian and TransUnion are each different.
Kerskie warns criminals will choose children because fraud can go undetected for 18 years or more.