If you are a victim of identity theft you have a right to four (4) free credit reports in the year after you report the fraud. Federal law* gives you those rights. The consumer credit reporting agencies (CRA) don’t really want you to know that. I know people who work at the credit bureaus that aren’t even aware of these rights. Here’s how you get the four free credit reports.
- Every victim gets a free credit report when reporting fraud. Call the CRA, report that you are a victim, place your initial 90–day fraud alert, and ask for your credit report (this is done using an automated voice response system or online).
- Get a police report, fill out an FTC fraud affidavit, and send an appropriately worded letter to the CRAs. In the letter, request an extended 7–year fraud alert on your credit file. Once you do that, according to U.S. law, you have a right to two (2) free copies of your credit file disclosure (credit report) in the following 12 months (from each of the 3 CRA).
- As part of the same Federal law, you have a right to one free credit report every 12 months, regardless of whether you are a victim or not. This is the “free annual credit report” you’ve no doubt heard about. And it is totally separate from the free reports you get as a victim.
So that’s four free reports in one year from each of the three CRA (so actually 12 total reports). That is far better than credit monitoring—and it is totally free. In other words, if you are a victim, paying for a credit monitoring service is expensive overkill.
Now all those laws and procedures are kind of a pain to understand and deal with. It requires sending letters with correct information and remembering all the specific time frames. All this confusion used to play right into the hands of the credit reporting agencies, by serving as a virtual obstacle to you taking advantage of your rights.
Well, don’t worry about it anymore. Because my company, Truston, is going to help you with all that. And all it will require is your email address to get started. Sign up here to get notified when we launch our service.
* The Federal law I refer to is Public Law 108–159, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. Which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act. How do I know all this? I read these laws in my spare time. My misery is your pleasure .