Montana State University

Student group says be wary of most "free" credit report sites

May 16, 2006

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Consumers shouldn't need to pay for a copy of their credit report, advises the Student Advocates for Financial Education at Montana State University.

Britta Hubbard, an MSU student and SAFE's outreach coordinator, said a frequently advertised Web site draws people to it by mentioning free credit reports and then gets them to agree to credit watching or other services. SAFE does financial counseling for students, often working with students on budgeting, checking account and credit card issues.

Through the official cooperative, consumers can get one free copy of their credit report each year. That has been the case since the Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended in September 2005."The three credit report agencies cooperate to offer the official Web site http://www.annualcreditreport.com," Hubbard said. Credit reports also can be requested free of charge by phoning (877) 322-8228 or by mail through the address at the Web site.

Hubbard said that after the federal legislation in 2005, other Web sites sprang up that claimed to offer "free credit reports," "free credit scores," or "free credit monitoring."

She said the free annual credit report program does not send e-mail, use pop-up ads or phone solicitations. She advised people not to respond to e-mails, ads or phone calls asking for personal information in return for a free credit report. The solicitation should be reported to spam@uce.gov, http://www.ftc.gov, or 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

The Federal Trade Commission has more information about the annual credit report program and other consumer issues related to credit. To learn more, visit http://www.ftc.gov/credit. If you are a student and have questions about financial matters, contact the Student Advocates for Financial Education: 994-7223, safe@montana.edu or go to http://safe.montana.edu.

"If any student approaches us with a financial question, we try to answer it," Hubbard said. "If we don't know the answer, we find someone who does."

The general public can access much of the information from SAFE by visiting its web site: safe@montana.edu.

Contact: Britta Hubbard, (406) 994-7223 or safe@montana.edu