How To

Don’t You Dare Pay for These 3 Credit Services – They’re Already Free

Two weeks ago I wrote an article about how credit cards make their way to your wallet.  You can review it here if you like.  It occurred to me that I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining the process of having your name removed from the mailing lists sold by the credit bureaus.  I just linked you to the site where you could “opt out” of credit offers in the comments section.

Further, there were some comments that suggested you had to pay someone else to have your name removed from the credit bureau’s mailing lists.  So, this week’s piece will not only clean up the process of having your name removed from the credit bureaus’ mailing lists, for free, but will also point you in some other directions where you can do other credit-related activities for free.

Where to Opt Out of Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers

There is only one legitimate website where you can opt out of being on the credit bureaus’ pre-approved mailing lists.  Here it is; Optoutprescreen.com.

That website is a joint venture of the four (yes, there are four) credit reporting agencies and allowing you to “opt out” is required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Opting out is 100 percent free and any company that attempts to sell you a service that includes opting you out as a feature is doing nothing more than going to this site and opting you out by proxy.  So, save your hard earned cash and do it yourself.  Incidentally, you can also opt back in at the same site and yes, that’s free as well.

Where to Claim Free Credit Reports

I’ve written about free reports countless times so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.  As with the opt out site, there is only one legitimate website where you can claim your Federally guaranteed free credit reports. Here it is; Annualcreditreport.com.

That website is also a joint venture of the three major credit reporting agencies and allowing you access to your credit reports for free once every twelve months is also required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

And as with opting out, you don’t have to pay anyone to do this for you.  And yes, there are companies that will gladly get you your credit reports for a fee.  Again, save your money and let YOUR fingers do the work.

Setting Fraud Alerts on Your Credit Reports

FREE FREE FREE!  You guys are going to love the Fair Credit Reporting Act before I’m done with you.  The Act also requires that the credit bureaus allow you to place fraud alerts on your credit reports for either 90 days or seven years.  You can choose to pay a company to do this on your behalf, although I’m not sure why you would because it’s free.

You don’t have to place fraud alerts on all three of your credit reports housed by the major credit bureaus.  You only have to do it at one credit bureau and they have to share that information with the other two.  I’ll make it really easy for you… simply click on the name of the credit reporting agency below and you’ll be linked to the appropriate page on their website where you can place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you’d rather call them, I’ve included their numbers.

Equifax – 1.800.525.6285

Experian –  .888.397.3742

TransUnion – 1.800.680.7289

Incidentally, when you place a fraud alert on your credit reports you’re also automatically opted out (see above) for five years.

Next week I’m going to show you where you can get your credit scores, for free.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of Mint.com or Intuit. Follow John on Twitter.