Free Credit Reports

Today is the first day Midwesterners can get their free credit reports from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. Generally, I think this is a terrific idea. Credit reports have a significant impact on us and it’s always fascinating to see what they remember. Credit reports never forget anything. Plus, I like getting the reports for free rather than paying the credit reporting agencies.

While the user experience generally worked OK, there were some irregularities:

· To get all three different credit reports, I had to fill in the exact same form three times.

· The site was a little buggy. For example, my first time through, it said that Trans Union was unavailable, but my second time through, it was available. After accessing a credit report, the “closing” screen was confusing.

· I thought it was ironic that the credit reporting agencies tried to get me to create an account with them, asking me for email addresses and other information that seems perfect to append to a credit report. As if they don’t have enough information already!

· All three agencies tried to upsell me on various credit-related services (Equifax, unsurprisingly, was the most aggressive). This is a great example something the industry fought hard (the obligation to provide free credit reports) will probably end up creating a new stream of profits for them.

· Perhaps my biggest beef is that both Trans Union and Experian asked me follow up questions to confirm my identity—but then let me guess multiple times to give the correct answer, rather than locking me out or at least asking a different question. I like the convenience of being able to access the reports from my desktop, but there is something a little unsettling about how much information an identity thief could get very quickly with persistence and some basic info (address, DOB and SSN).

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