Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dan's Stolen Card and Equifax's Free Credit Report Scam

Today, Dan blogged about his stolen credit card experience, at DAN CLARK: STOLEN CREDIT CARDS, and he's turned into a "credit card bill checking nerd," he says. He's got it right as far as I'm concerned. You really need to check your cards yourself.

You may have heard the singing group commercial, "" thing. It's not free. In fact, it's a scam. Equifax, the super big credit rating company, runs it. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission took Equifax to court to have it change the web site since the FTC authorizes only one web site for free annual credit reports, here, as required by law. Since Equifax was determined to keep its scam going, it changed its web site to charge you $1.00 for a charity donation, which Equifax writes off of course, to satisfy the law. But, even that isn't all that you'll pay for if you get a credit report from its site. You will also have to sign up for "credit monitoring," for about $15.00 a year (could be per month - I'm not sure). You may not even know you signed up for the charge. (Note: I have a tool added to my browser that measures the "trustworthiness" of a web site, the "Web Of Trust" tool. Green for trustworthy, Yellow for watch out, Red for terrible. It gives Equifax's web site a Yellow - Watch Out!). So, the "FreeCreditReport" is not free.

As for Equifax monitoring, I don't believe it either. About a year and a half ago I received a letter from a company (I've forgotten its name) that informed me that my personal data was stolen and that they arranged with Equifax, Transunion and Experian, the three credit rating companies, to monitor my credit account. So, every month for the past 1-1/2 years I have received an email from Equifax saying "nothing has happened" to my account. But, that isn't true. In the past 1-1/2 years I've had to replace a lost credit card, I've charged my card to ship to family addresses (shipping to other addresses should be top of the alert list) and I've created a new bank account. None of these things caused Equifax to alert me of a change in my account, yet these are the things that should be reported to the account holder.

So, I'm with Dan. Go look at your credit card accounts yourself. Also, use the authorized FTC web site to get an annual free credit report. That's the only place that's authorized by law.


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