Better Business Bureau is joining with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the Department of Finance, and other government and private organizations in promoting consumer education. It's National Consumer Protection Week. The annual campaign encourages everyone to know and understand their rights and responsibilities in order to make better-informed decisions.
BBB says that means learning about and understanding identity theft, fraud, online safety, credit and debt collection rights, charity scams and general safety. All week long, a number of agencies will be releasing facts and tips about each of these areas of emphasis.
BBB's Emily Valla says checking your credit report is essential to being vigilant with your identity.
"There is one, bona fide, safe place to check your credit report for free. It’s annualcreditreport.com. Type that directly into your address bar, don’t search for it. Make sure you are on a secured WiFi connection, because you will need to type in personal information like your Social Security number," Valla said.
There are three credit reporting bureaus that must give you a free look at your report once a year. You can view each company’s report at different times. BBB recommends checking one today, and then a different one in four months, and so on.
If you see something on your credit report that doesn't seem correct, you could be a victim of identity theft.
"You may want to flag your credit reports. Call one of the credit reporting companies and ask for a fraud alert and create an identity theft report. It can help you get the fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts caused by identity theft, and get information about accounts a thief opened in your name. You’ll find the FTC and local police are good resources if you’re the victim of identity theft," Valla said.
Valla also says it's possible the mistaken report is an error. It takes time to fix, but can be done, start with one of the credit reporting companies.
For more information visit bbb.org.