If you’re looking to obtain a copy of your credit report, your first choice should be to visit the website AnnualCreditReport.com. As I mentioned this morning, every American is entitled to three free credit reports, and this is the only website that allows you to view these credit reports for free.
Once you’ve exhausted your three free reports, if you’re looking for help monitoring your credit, or if you want to see your credit scores which are not provided with AnnualCreditReport.com’s service, consider IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION®. They are currently offering a 30-day trial which includes credit scores from all three credit reporting agencies.
Some might be hesitant in offering up their personal information to a third-party like IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® but I’ve gone through the sign-up process and it’s very straightforward. You will need to provide general personal information like name, address, birthday and contact information, as well as your social security number.
Once you complete the registration page, you move to the second stage to enter your credit card information. IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® will not charge you until the 31st day after you begin the free trial. Be sure to cancel your trial membership before the 31st day if you would prefer not to continue these services.
Finally, you will confirm your identity by answering four questions. The questions asked are generally about your current credit accounts, like mortgage payments or auto loans. Many banks have a similar identity confirmation process, where several random facts from your credit report, like old addresses and the names of lenders, are verified in a multiple choice format.
If you successfully verify your identity, you’ll have access to your credit scores in under two minutes.
Once you’ve signed up and logged into the website, you will notice there’s a lot going on. You’ll see a screen like the graphic above. To the right, you immediately see your credit scores from the three major credit bureaus. This particular example shows how there can be an extreme disparity between the scores from each agency. Should a creditor us the TransUnion score of 661, you’re bound to be approved for something you certainly would not be with the Equifax score of 570.
You can navigate IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® using six main sections, two of which are self-explanatory. First, the Home tab is where you’ll land every-time you visit the website and is represented by the screen-shot above. The other tab that speaks for itself is the Messages Center tab, which will provide you all important communications from IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® such as billing statements if you continue your subscription beyond 30 days, as well as any important changes to your credit reports or scores.
Here are brief explanations of the other sections.
Credit. You’ll undoubtedly spend the most amount of time in the Credit section, as this is where you’ll find more detail into your credit scores. All of the sub-sections you see below are accessible and provide details regarding your credit score. The day you sign up (in this example, July 2) is the day your credit score will be pulled, and the only way to have a new report pulled is to pay for it.
Make sure that when reviewing this section of your account all of the information is 100% accurate. Even a slight problem can be the difference in thousands of dollars of future interest payments so if you find something that isn’t exact, use the Creditor Contact tab to contact the right merchant and fix the problem as soon as possible.
Internet. The Internet tab of your IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® account shows how protected you are when it comes to your identity online. You can register credit cards and bank accounts to make sure your personal information is protected as your Social Security number and address are already protected. Should your identity be stolen as a defect of the IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® service, you are protected by a guarantee that they will reimburse you for up to $1 million in expenses to fix the problem they caused.
You’ll also notice two sub-tabs grayed out in the screen-shot below, ID Risk Assessment and Public Record Report. These reports are not available during the free trial, but if you decide to continue your service beyond the 30 days, you will have access to them.
Computer. The computer tab is not accessible for free-trial subscribers but again, if you retain your subscription after the 30 days, you can protect your computer from potential identity threats.
On The Go. On The Go allows you to quickly report the items in your wallet lost or stolen so your creditors can cease any fraudulent charges. First, you’ll have to add the credit or debit cards to your account, then should they be lost or stolen, you’re only a click away from taking care of the matter.
If you decide to cancel during your 30-day free trial, all you need to do is call up IDENTITY GUARD EXTRA CAUTION and request a cancellation. The call shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes and your credit card will not be charged.
Getting your free credit score from IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® is easy and painless. There are a dozen or so other sites that offer free credit scores however none of them offer them for as long or as extensively as IDENTITY GUARD EXTRA CAUTION. To sign up for the IDENTITY GUARD® EXTRA CAUTION® 30-day free trial, visit www.IDENTITYGUARD.com
Updated March 29, 2011 and originally published November 23, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.