Friday, July 29, 2005

Free Credit Reports Might Not be Free

Do an internet search for free credit reports and it will be hard to find a site that isn't trying to sell you something besides a free credit report. Imposter Web domains are out there, where the specific intent is to use free credit reporting as a lure to sell you something and or obtain your information.

The official website for a free credit report is Annualcreditreport.com.

The World Privacy Forum found that at least 233 imposter domains have been registered using variations of this domain name. They identified 122 of them as active and on-line. The imposter websites will change their domain name, ever so slightly, in order to misdirect people. Several of these sites were identified as selling personal information to businesses, such as mortgage lenders, or car dealers.

I would imagine, the most extreme danger is being misdirected to a site where information is being pharmed. Pharming entails using fake websites, designed to look legitimate, where personal information is stolen and used in identity theft.

The World Privacy Forum has published some Updated Consumer Tips:

"-When phoning the toll free number (877-322-8228) for a free credit report, ask that only the last four digits of your SSN be displayed when it is sent to you.
-If you use the toll free number above to access your free credit report, be aware that if you have a strong accent or a complex last name, the automated phone system may not work.
-If you call for your report or have it mailed to you, ensure that your credit report is mailed to a secure mailbox.
-Know that you are not required to give out your email address in order to obtain a federally mandated free credit report.
-If you order a free annual credit report online, take basic computer safety precautions. For example, ensure that your computer is virus-free and don't order your reports from a public computer or from work.
-If you do choose to go online to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ to access your free credit report, be absolutely certain that you have not mistyped in the http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ address. If you see pop-up ads, or if you notice that the site is not a secure site, close your browser and start over. (Secure sites will have a padlock logo in the corner, and the address will read https:// instead of just http://). Please note, though, that some clever imposter sites are providing https:// secure site access, so just a padlock alone is not a guarantee that you are on the right site."

For more information from the World Privacy Forum, click on the title.

1 comment:

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