City Attorney Mike Feuer Tuesday encouraged Angelenos to get their free annual credit reports online before the end of the year to guard against identity theft.
Each of the three credit bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian -- are required to provide free copies of credit reports once every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com, as a result of 2003's Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
"With our personal data seemingly under constant assault from massive data breaches, knowing what's in our credit reports can help prevent identify theft," Feuer said. "We need to be vigilant. If we're not, identity thieves can ruin our credit scores, wipe out dreams of owning a home or business, or even worse."
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The reports give consumers a summary of their credit history, including payment history, inquiries made by financial institutions and information on the public record, such as foreclosures or bankruptcies.
The website is the only one authorized by federal law to provide this information, and Feuer also warned consumers to be cautious of other websites that claim to offer free credit reports.
After visiting www.annualcreditreport.com, consumers should close their Internet browser to be sure their transaction is secure and their personal information is not at risk. Consumers also may order their free annual credit report by calling toll-free, 1-877-322-8228.
If consumers get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call or text message from someone claiming to be from the official website or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, they are urged to not reply or click on any link in the message, but instead forward it to the FTC at email@example.com.