Our credit score determines many aspects of our lives: what rates we pay on loans and credit cards; how much we pay in insurance premiums; even whether or not we are hired for a job.
No wonder when companies promise to show us our credit scores for free, we jump at the chance.
But some of those companies are simply scammers hoping to glean identity information or sell us products we don’t want. As a result, it’s critical to exercise caution with these come-ons.
AARP magazine offers these suggestions on how to spot scams:
Think before you click:
Often, says AARP, scammers masquerade as well-known companies and banks, “sending you emails that are spot-on replicas of ones from the real McCoys.” They offer to send you a free credit score, but instead lure you to their own websites, where they are actually selling services — usually credit monitoring or identity protection — or running scams to steal your identity. Study these come-ons carefully, and don’t click on links in emails from unfamiliar third parties.
Never give your credit card number:
If the venue asks for your credit card number, run. Otherwise, you may find yourself enrolled in an expensive service you don’t need. As AARP warns, “Legitimate providers of free scores don’t ask for your plastic.”
Be on guard after a major data breach:
After publicized breaches such as the recent hacking of Target, scammers send emails urging people to protect themselves. “The emails appear to be from legitimate score providers, but in fact spread malware or solicit sensitive personal information.”