Credit Reports

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized
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If you’ve used your quota or otherwise don’t qualify for a free report you’ll have to pay for additional copies. The law sets the maximum fee for that at $11. But considering what they charge wholesale clients, it’s outrageous. According to the New York Times article, while credit reporting agencies are allowed to charge you up to $11 to see your credit report, they routinely sell them to corporate clients for as little as 20 cents. The law that limits the charge for a personal credit report to $11 doesn’t do you much good if the companies tasked with providing it hide it instead. And that’s exactly what you’ll encounter when you try to find an $11 credit report from any of the big credit reporting bureaus. What you’ll find instead is up-sell: a confusing plethora of product pitches from credit monitoring services to report/score bundles. When the FTC was advised on how credit reporting bureaus deceive customers they declined to get involved. This despite the mission statement on their website that they exist to prevent deceptive practices. Apparently, it does not apply to these companies. To assist those who need to obtain a report here is a step-by-step guide that can steer you to the cheapest options – at least until the reporting agencies shuffle the deck again.
TransUnion – This took a professional credit counselor 11 minutes and 5 seconds to find the cheap option. The shortest route found to get there is:
1) Click the tiny “Site Map” link at the very bottom of TransUnion.com. (It’s in the middle, sort of.)
2) In the leftmost column (labeled “Personal”), under the section header “Credit Disputes, Alerts and Freezes,” click “Credit Reports and Disclosures.”
3) On the right is a “Convenient online services” box with a link to “Purchase a TransUnion Credit Report.”
4) This leads you to a form to create an account, after which there is a checkbox trying to upsell you again – it says you can get your “personal score” for $9.95. Skip it and you’ll get the option to purchase a “personal credit report” for $11.
Equifax – It took professional credit counselor 7 minutes and 22 seconds to find the basic option here. Here’s the route around the front-page up-sell to the $11 report:
1) .Go to Equifax.com and move your cursor over “Equifax Products” in the upper left, which will present a drop-down menu. Click the last link, “Compare Products.”
2) Here you’ll see a handy list of all the junk you didn’t ask for compared side-by-side. What you want isn’t even visible as an option yet – click the red “Single Use Products” tab.
3) Now you’ll see four more options ranging from $15 to $40, which still don’t include just the basic report. Scroll down and find the $9.95 “Identity Report,” which is the cheapest option found.
Experian – The professional credit counselor gave up after 15 minutes of hunting for the $11 option. Given the number of links on the front page – including Experian’s highlighted product, which claims to provide your credit report and score for $1, but will auto-bill you $17.95 a month unless you cancel within a week – we can’t blame him. But in terms of the number of steps and clicks, this may actually be the easiest CRA to navigate once you know where to look…
1) On Experian.com, in the bottom left “Products” column, click the first option: credit report.
2) You’ll get a side-by-side comparison that, unlike Equifax, includes the cheap option on the first page, instead of at the bottom of a second page. On the right you’ll see a link to order a $10 “Experian credit check.”
[Source: MoneyTalksNews Stacy Johnson 9 Mar 2012 ++]

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