New Report Identifies Problems With And Related To The
Federally Mandated Free Credit Report Site AnnualCreditReport.com
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New Report Identifies Problems With And Related To The
Federally Mandated Free Credit Report Site AnnualCreditReport.com

San Diego, CA - A new report issued today by the World Privacy Forum in advance of the March 1 rollout of free credit reports to Midwest residents, shows that consumers may be better off calling or mailing for their federally mandated free credit report instead of going online for it.
 
Researchers analyzed two areas: The official Web site, https://www.AnnualCreditReport.com and close misspellings of the official web site's address to see if any "phishing" or scam sites had been put online.

The World Privacy Forum study, "Call Don't Click: Why It's Smarter to Order a Federally Mandated Credit Report via Phone Instead of the Internet," documents that 96 known "imposter" domains exist.
'28 of the imposter domains belong to Experian, a credit bureau.
'68 of the imposter domains belong to or are hosted at "pay per click" companies.
'50 of the "pay per click" domains are live, and some are luring consumers to inappropriate and risky Web sites. Some of the "pay per click" sites lead consumers to Experian and other credit companies' commercial sites in order to cash in on the credit bureaus' affiliate marketing programs.
 
Additional issues were found at the official AnnualCreditReport.com site itself. The primary finding was that the credit bureaus are blurring the lines between what is free for consumers and what is available for a cost.

For example, the TransUnion section of the AnnualCreditReport.com site automatically selects consumers to receive marketing information and have their information shared with affiliates and partners. Experian and Equifax have potentially confusing menu navigation bars that do not clearly distinguish between the free areas of credit report access and the for-pay sections.
 
"As a long-time pro-technology advocate, it saddens me to advise consumers to avoid a legitimate Internet site," said Pam Dixon, Executive Director of the World Privacy Forum and a principal investigator for the report.

"The Internet is a medium I have long recommended to consumers as a vehicle for advice, research, and consumer information. If the credit bureaus take to heart the findings of this report, clear the confusing information from the AnnualCreditReport.com site and clean up the imposter domains, my recommendation to avoid the site will change."

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 are displayed on the reports to be mailed to you.
'If you call for your credit report or have it mailed to you, have it 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 do choose to go online to https://www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access your credit report, be absolutely certain that you have not mistyped the AnnualCreditReport.com address. If you see pop-up ads or if you notice that the site is not secure, 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://".)
'If you go online to https://www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access your TransUnion credit report, be sure to look for any pre-checked marketing or newsletter offers. If you decide you do not want these offers, uncheck the box.
For complete findings of the "Call, Don't Click" report and a consumer tip sheet, see: http://www.WorldPrivacyForum.org or WorldPrivacyForum.org/calldontclick.html.

CONTACTS:
Pam Dixon, Executive Director
World Privacy Forum
Phone: 760-436-2489
Mobile: 760-470-2000
info2005@worldprivacyforum.org
WorldPrivacyForum.org
Beth Givens, Director
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Phone: 619-298-3396
bgivens@privacyrights.org
PrivacyRights.org

 

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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