Q. Can I trust e-mails promising free credit reports?
A. Probably not. There’s only one legitimate entity that provides free yearly credit reports from the three reporting bureaus: www.annualcreditreport.com (1-877-322-8228 toll free). Your e-mails likely come from spammers out to steal your personal information or from companies that will provide a free report—if you enroll in a credit-monitoring service that can cost $120 or more a year. While the companies do provide a legitimate service, they often allow only a short trial period for the “free” report. If you don’t cancel in that time, your credit card could be charged.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" (AARP Books/Sterling).