Columbia, MD, January 22, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Executives at Debt Shield, a Maryland-based debt settlement company, are urging consumers to get their free annual credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com as part of their New Year's resolutions.
With unemployment reaching its highest level in 16 years and more people turning to credit cards to make ends meet, this year is a great time to make your free annual credit report part of your New Year's resolution.
"You can check for mistakes, evidence of fraud, and other marks that could affect your credit scores and cost you time, stress and money," said Debt Shield CEO Phil Fewster. "If you find items on your credit file that shouldn't be there, then you need to address those errors directly with the credit bureaus."
Your credit report will show you all the information creditors report about your credit activity over the last seven to ten years. Checking your credit file can help you detect errors and signs of identify theft that could cost you thousands of dollars. The Fair Credit Reporting Act empowers consumers to challenge these errors and get them removed if the reporting creditors cannot prove the accuracy or timeliness of the information.
"If you find errors or indications of potential identity theft, you should act immediately to have the information removed from your credit file," said Fewster. "If you find accounts opened in your name that you did not open, then you should consider putting a freeze on your credit file."
A credit freeze must be done by contacting the credit bureaus and following their process for freezing your credit file. Once frozen, identity thieves cannot open new fraudulent accounts in your name. You will still need to contest existing fraudulent accounts. The credit bureaus should provide you with the process for cleaning up these accounts as well as other errors on your credit file.
There are three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, all of which may have slightly varied information. You can obtain free annual credit reports from all three credit bureaus by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. However, there is a small fee for seeing your credit score.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers access to their credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year for free. AnnualCreditReport.com, the official website setup to help consumers access their free annual credit report, directs consumers to each bureau's secure site which then requests information to verify their identity such as address, year of birth or an account number. Each bureau may try to sell consumers related products and services, such as credit scores or credit monitoring services, but consumers are not required to make any purchase to gain access to their credit reports.
While there are other websites from which consumers can access their credit reports, this website is recommended by the FTC as "the only authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law." See the FTC website for more information.
About Debt Shield:
Debt Shield, Inc., is an award-winning debt settlement company helping consumers resolve their unsecured debt through mutually agreeable, discounted settlements in consideration of the consumers’ legitimate financial hardships. By helping consumers avoid bankruptcy, Debt Shield provides a service for both debtors and creditors. For more information about Debt Shield, call 1-888-397-7546 or visit the website at www.debtshield.com.