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Securing Personal Data when Getting a Credit Report

By Ruth Racey
Published: Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Credit reports are essential for banks, card issuers, and lenders to determine the credit worthiness of an applicant. These reports contain valuable information about a consumer’s financial standing and spending habits. Credit reports essentially contain everything that companies are looking for whenever potential clients apply for car loans and mortgages.

These reports are generated using data provided by different financial institutions. The consumer’s personal information are also include in their records. To protect the privacy of American cardholders, the federal government has devised different laws to safeguard the information.

Cardholders can gain access to their credit reports through several methods. By law, each consumer is allowed to get a copy of their most recent report once every twelve months from each of the three authorized credit bureaus. However, cardholders can also access their records anytime by availing of the services offered by different companies online. Consumers can also request for copies of their credit reports through the phone.

In both options, representatives from the companies need to be sure that the persons requesting for the records are the cardholders themselves. Because these reports contain important and private information that can be used by card fraudsters and scammers, companies need to have stringent measures to protect their clients’ privacy.

The agencies offering their services to cardholders may ask their clients several questions to confirm their identity. These questions are usually taken from the personal information the consumers have provided card companies and the credit bureaus like the date of birth, and their social security number. When the agencies are convinced that it is actually the cardholder requesting a copy of his or her credit reports, then the transaction will continue.

With credit reporting websites, however, it is a different matter altogether. Unlike telephone numbers that can be traced or verified, websites are often elusive and difficult to trust. Some scammers use websites to trick cardholders into providing crucial information they need to charge thousands of dollars to their cards.

Consumers have to be on the lookout for websites that require them to purchase something. These sites are usually swindle cardholders billions of dollars each year. To avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraudsters, cardholders have to be alert and never trust online services that are suspicious.

Sometimes, using public computers can lead to identity theft. Making use of computers at the library or internet cafes to request copies of credit reports can lead to problems in the future. Experts agree that using well-protected personal computers at home can drastically reduce the risk of identity theft online.

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