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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Metro Atlanta, Athens and NE Georgia
BBB Tips: Checking Your Credit Reports And Staying Away From Credit Repair
February 26, 2013

There are many great things about living in the state of Georgia.  One of them is that Georgia citizens are entitled to TWO free copies of their credit reports each year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Please note, this does not include your credit score which can be purchased at an additional cost.

So why should you get two copies each year?  Simple, by checking your credit reports, and yes it should be all three, you can ensure that all the information is accurate and most importantly, you have not fallen victim to identity theft.

You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get a copy of all three reports.  From the homepage, you simply choose your state from the dropdown box and go.  The three credit bureau’s icons are shown just below the state dropdown box. 

Once you’ve viewed or received your credit reports, and notice any inaccurate information, you can correct this yourself at no cost.  Remember, that credit repair is illegal in the state of Georgia.  Only time, and nothing else, will remove negative information from your credit report.  Any company that advertises the following claims should raise red flags and be carefully investigated:

“Credit problems? No problem!”

“We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!”

“We can erase your bad credit — 100% guaranteed.”

“Create a new credit identity — legally.”

Don’t believe these claims: they’re very likely scams. Indeed, attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission say they’ve never seen a legitimate credit repair operation making those claims. The fact is there’s no quick fix for creditworthiness. You can improve your credit report legitimately, but it takes time, a conscious effort, and sticking to a personal debt repayment plan.

When negative information in your report is accurate, only time can make it go away. A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

The seven-year reporting period starts from the date the event took place. There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.

Signs of a Credit Repair Scam
You’ll know you’re encountering credit repair fraud if a company:
• insists you pay them before they do any work on your behalf
• tells you not to contact the credit reporting companies directly
• tells you to dispute information in your credit report — even if you know it's accurate
• tells you to give false information on your applications for credit or a loan
• doesn’t explain your legal rights when they tell you what they can do for you

Ads That Promise a "New Credit Identity"
Companies promising a “new credit identity” say they can help you hide bad credit history or bankruptcy for a fee. If you pay them, these companies will provide you with a nine-digit number that looks like a Social Security number. They may call it a CPN — a credit profile number or a credit privacy number. Or, they may direct you to apply for an EIN — an Employer Identification Number — from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). EIN’s are legitimate numbers, typically used by businesses to report financial information to the IRS and Social Security Administration — but an EIN is not a substitute for your Social Security number.

The credit repair companies may tell you to apply for credit using the CPN or EIN, rather than your own Social Security number. And they may lie and tell you that this process is legal. But it's a scam. These companies may be selling stolen Social Security numbers, often those taken from children. By using a stolen number as your own, the con artists will have involved you in identity theft.

If you follow a credit repair company’s advice and commit fraud, you might find yourself in legal trouble.

It’s a federal crime to:
• lie on a credit or loan application
• misrepresent your Social Security number
• obtain an EIN from the IRS under false pretenses

The bottom line is that if you use the number they sell you, you could face fines or time in prison.