BIZTIPS - Juy 24, 2005
Biz Tips: Beware of Credit Report Scams
Sunday, July 24, 2005
By Art Hill
If there were a national credit security alert system, it would be raised to “Level Orange.” According to a recently published study, over 200 Web sites have emerged with names similar to the authentic website for checking your credit status. Some encourage visitors to pay for reports, others even ask visitors for personal information.
The study is available at the World Privacy Forum’s website www.worldprivacyforum.org. It documents 112 active “imposter” sites in June, including eight that asked for personal information such as social security number and date of birth. Although the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the sites, it’s your individual responsibility to know how to protect your credit information and guard against identity theft.
What steps can you take to insure that your credit records are accurate? First, use the authentic website for free credit reports www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. If you have any doubt that the site you reach is authentic, use a link from the Federal Trade Commission Site www.ftc.gov. At the bottom of the FTC home page, click on Consumers, then Credit. You’ll see the link on the right side of the “Credit” screen.
Second, NEVER respond to an e-mail or website that requests personal information (social security number, address, bank account) unless you verify that the request is legitimate and you are using a secure process for entering the information. Websites for lenders and other businesses with a legitimate need for this information will always display a security message.
Third, use the Federally mandated free credit reporting service to check the accuracy of your credit history. It’s as important as balancing your checking account, and it helps protect you against identity theft or just plain errors.
We are a nation of entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, some creative types use their talent for fraud. When it comes to your personal and business credit, you are only the one responsible for knowing the difference.
Content © 2005 East Oregonian