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Fun With Your Credit Report

Last week I finally decided to take my own advice and go order my free annual credit reports from each of the three national credit bureaus. Staying on top of the information in your credit report is among the most effective ways to detect if someone is trying to hijack your identity.

So I visited AnnualCreditReport.com, which offers you the choice to view all three reports at once or stagger them over a 12-month period. I opted to get them all in one lump, as I wanted to compare the reports for differences and inaccuracies.

Now, I'm sure my experience was trivial compared to what an identity theft victim might experience after reviewing their ravaged credit report for the first time. There was no evidence of rogue credit accounts set up in my name or unknown aliases registered to my Social Security number. But there were quite a few glaring errors in two of my reports, wrong enough to raise at least the suspicion that something wasn't quite right.

Experian was the first credit bureau I queried, and after filling in a short form with my address, Social Security number and date of birth, I was asked a series of four multiple-choice questions about my mortgage payments, monthly bills and a few other financial details that supposedly only I (and a few thousand other companies the bureau shares my information with) would know.

The report listed no fewer than six different spellings of my last name and a wildly incorrect birthdate. But what really scared me was the previous address it had listed for me -- an apartment in Staten Island, N.Y. I tried to correct the items online, but the site said I had to take care of that over the phone or by mail.

After calling the toll-free number and waiting on hold for about 20 minutes, a nice lady answered and immediately knew who I was by the case number I had been given from the Web site. Within 60 seconds she had corrected the old address (she could offer no explanation for the error). Within 45 days, she said, I'd get an e-mail confirming the changes

Moving on to Trans Union, I progressed through roughly the same steps, only to find that after refusing the "option" of entering my e-mail address so they could keep me informed about their new services, blah, blah, I was turned down. I thought maybe this was just a site error, so I tried again later, but received the same results.

Once again, be careful when visiting the free credit-report Web site. Misspell the URL and you could wind up at one of 130-odd sites that the Federal Trade Commission found may be trying to mislead consumers into paying for their credit reports or buying expensive credit-monitoring services. 

By Brian Krebs  |  October 3, 2005; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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Comments

Has anyone ever had an accurate credit report? Mine has 5 different spellings of my name, is missing 3 previous addresses, and between the 3 reports I have a couple differences in whether certain credit card payments have been 30 or 60 days late. As far as I can tell, it could only be one or the other but I don't have the credit statements anymore to prove it was 30 days to the credit report that has them at 60 days.

A friend of mine has his father AND grandfather's credit on his report, including their social security numbers (how does one person have 3 social security numbers?) and their mortgages (he's never owned a house) and events that happened before he was even born!! It doesn't take a math major to figure out that's impossible! He's called them numerous times and in several years they have not been able to fix the problem, how ridiculous!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I can't get to the website
AnnualCreditReport.com mentioned in the article. Please advise

Posted by: gus | October 3, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The link for "130-odd sites" is not finding that story on the washington post... . Any chance there's an archive of it somewhere?

Posted by: john | October 4, 2005 8:10 AM | Report abuse

does anyone know how toreally correct them with results? Email ,me at alpine@maine.rr.com please.

Posted by: alexandra | October 4, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Well, your link is wrong or they have changed their website!! If you use the link in your article I get this message:

"The page cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable".

I suspect that this company doesn't appreciate your article. They automatically redirect people clicking on the link you gave to a page on their website which they have designed and which gives the above message...obviously it is something they are doing to avoid inquiries. Please advise when you know what is going on!

Posted by: Noel | October 4, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I've had that same issue for years (over 20 years). My fathers transactions added to mine. I gave up trying to change it. When I make a major purchase I mention the fact to the seller and then we both go over the credit report to validate what is mine and what is my fathers. I also placed a restriction with each credit reporting company that I wished to be called when ever anyone inquires about my credit because of a purchase. It works, I have prevented attempted purchases.

The credit report companies should be held liable for placing false information in individuals credit reports. They make their money on providing information about individuals that have a large impact in our lives. Yet they can get away with reporting false information and not doing anything to correct the problem when the consumer advises them of the problem. Lets all demand that a law be passed to hold them accountable for the information on the credit reports

Posted by: Larry | October 4, 2005 11:48 AM | Report abuse

HOW SAFE CAN IT BE TO GIVE YOUR SS# ON LINE ?

Posted by: eula irvin | October 4, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The AnnualCreditReport.com site seems to be working fine now.

Posted by: greinerb | October 4, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Wrong information in your text, as noted by several notes appended. Where do we go to get free credit reports without risk of giving away clues for identity thieves?

Posted by: cumberford@aol.com | October 4, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Greg | October 4, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Everything was pretty accurate on my credit report, except on one, I said was born in a different month on a different day in 1921. I must say, I have aged very well-- I don't look a day over 25.

Posted by: alexandra | October 4, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Dear Author
Please write an article that includes the companies full Names,URL,and web address links to each of the credit report agencies you mentioned in this article and the geographic area (USA only, USA & Canada, or ???)Makes it more user friendly and allows us to copy the links down for when your article goes offline into Archives that we have to pay to access.

Posted by: robinanderson86@hotmail.com | October 12, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow. So many unhappy customers. There was no wrong information in my blog entry. That site listed above is the correct site for obtaining your yearly free credit report from the major credit bureaus.

If for some reason it is not accessible, it is probably because it is processing a lot of traffic. I know that at least once while trying to access the site I got a Web site error message.

My suspicion is that the credit bureaus have not exactly dedicated a whole lot of bandwidth to this effort, but that's my own private hunch, two cents, whatever.

Posted by: Bk | October 13, 2005 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I got a copy of my credit reports about a year ago and 2 of them were reasonably accurate (with minor inaccuracies such as DOB, variations of past addresses, etc), but TransUnion had one major discrepancy - it showed that I had a bankrupcy. I contacted them and they said they would research it. They got back to me and said it was accurate, but if I wanted to they would put a letter from me with my records saying that I disagreed with the info (like anyone would believe me!). I ended up spending weeks doing my own research and found that there was a person in my apartment complex (different Apt. #) with the same first name (Linda - although I spell my name Lynda) but a different last name and different Social. I called TransUnion back and gave them the number for the court clerk that helped me and they eventually removed the offending entry. Their response to why they didn't figure this out themselves is that they only have to use check forms of ID and in this case they used the name (which was different) and address (which was different). They never checked the social, even after I told them the information was not mine. Doesn't exactly give you warm fuzzy feelings about the accuracy of their info!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2005 6:49 PM | Report abuse

For the past six months I have tried, off and on, to log onto annualcreditreport.com. I have tried from several different computers. I have ALWAYS gotten this error message: The page cannot be found. The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. I'd like to know how other people are getting onto the site.

Posted by: Heidi | November 10, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how easy it is for your credit to be messed up, and the worst part of it, the darned agencies and companies reporting to them are part of the problem! That's why it is SO important to do your OWN due dilligence and make sure you get your reports and monitor them a LOT! I've been doing this for years and use the services of things like CreditReportSpy.com and other resources to make sure things are OK!

Posted by: Bob Gatchel | January 5, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

07 February 2006 Cannot get to website AnnualCreditReport.com Where is it?

Posted by: baral | February 8, 2006 8:23 AM | Report abuse

As many have already noted, I get the "..page not found.." message. Even at 1am. Anyone have a difinitive answer?

Posted by: bruce | May 18, 2006 4:15 AM | Report abuse

I believe the so called "error message" regarding "...page not found.." at annualcreditreport.com is NOT in fact an error message, but a redirection to a page that has been created on that website. This is, at the least, dishonest since the page was actually "found". The webmaster had to have created that. How about doing some investigative reporting to find out what's going on? Seems like the FTC should be concerned.

Posted by: bruce@finsup.info | May 18, 2006 4:35 AM | Report abuse

Trying to access the annualcreditreport.com website, and am getting the "page not found" message. Does the site still exist?

Posted by: Steve | June 19, 2006 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I accessed AnnualCreditReport.com with no problem whatsoever in March, from the same computer and home location.
But now I have to agree. I have tried dozens of times, at all times of the day to access the site, even borrowing a company computer midday to see if that made a difference. No go.
I have tried clicking the links given in the FTC.gov website (They link to the same address above, though.)

AnnualCreditReport.com now ALWAYS gives me a "The Page Cannot Be Found" HTTP 404 error message. Any idea why?

Posted by: JT | July 11, 2006 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I've been trying to get to annualcreditreport.com for weeks by typing it directly into the address bar and also clicking links to it from various websites and it always gives me the same error message. "The page cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable." Anybody know what gives?

Posted by: Lulu | August 16, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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