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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions
Payment/Delivery Options
All About Credit Reports
All About Credit Scores

General Questions

How secure is the PrivacyAdvantage Web Site?
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
How do I contact Customer Service?
What should I do if I am a victim of identity theft?
What is the Federal Trade Commission?


How secure is the PrivacyAdvantage Web site?

Very. Our web site uses some of the most advanced encryption technology available: 128-bit encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) keeps your personal information secure from unauthorized access. Netscape 4.0 and higher, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, and most frame-enabled browsers support SSL. When you begin a transaction, the rest of your visit will take place on our secure server. You will see a small key or padlock in the bottom right corner of your browser if you are using Netscape or Microsoft browsers, indicating that your transaction is secure.

To further ensure that your privacy is protected, Intersections Inc. has engaged TruSecure Corporation, a nationally recognized security firm, to conduct a security audit known as a Web Certification. According to the Perimeter Risk Assessment results, Intersections Inc. has a "solid security posture".

Intersections Inc. complies with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and is in compliance with the processing, privacy and security requirements of the national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).


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What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus that gather and sell information about your creditworthiness to creditors, employers, landlords, and other businesses.

The FCRA gives consumers specific rights which are summarized below. You may have additional rights under state law.

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses information from a consumer reporting agency to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment -- or take another adverse action against you -- must tell you and give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.
  • You can find out what is in your file. At any time, you may request and obtain your report from a consumer reporting agency. You are entitled to free reports if a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in a report; if you are the victim of identify theft or fraud; if you are on public assistance; or if you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days. In addition, you are entitled to one free report every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit reporting agencies and from some specialized consumer reporting agencies. You may request your report beginning on December 1, 2004, or on a later date, depending on where in the country you live.
  • You have a right to know your credit score. For a fee, you may request your credit score. In some mortgage transactions, you will receive credit score information without charge.
  • You can dispute inaccurate information with the consumer reporting agency. If you tell a consumer reporting agency that your file has inaccurate information, the agency must take certain steps to investigate unless your dispute is frivolous.
  • Inaccurate information must be corrected or deleted. A consumer reporting agency or furnisher must remove or correct information verified as inaccurate, usually within 30 days after you dispute it. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report negative data that it verifies as being accurate.
  • Outdated negative information may not be reported. In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.
  • Access to your file is limited. A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need as determined by the FCRA -- usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business.
  • Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights. Victims of identity theft have new rights under the FCRA. Active-duty military personnel who are away from their regular duty station may file “active duty” alerts to help prevent identity theft.

For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/credit, or write to: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.


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How do I contact customer service?

PrivacyAdvantageSM customer service representatives are ready to assist you with any questions you may have.

PrivacyAdvantage Members: To contact us toll-free, please login to your account to obtain your customer service phone number so that we may route your call to the appropriate representative.

To Learn More: For general questions about the PrivacyAdvantage program, please call us toll-free at 1-800-503-3369, Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central time.


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What should I do if I am a victim of identity theft?

If you are a member of PrivacyAdvantage, simply call us at 1-800-503-3369 and we'll put you in touch with our Identity Theft Recovery Unit. These Specialists are your powerful allies after a fraud or identity theft attack. They will walk you through all the steps required to restore your credit and will:

contact the three leading consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®) on your behalf to place a Fraud Statement in your credit file.
assist you in contacting affected creditors and law enforcement agencies.
assist you in filing disputes with credit reporting agencies.
send you a Fraud First Aid Kit containing important contact phone numbers and addresses, and a Contact List that you can use to keep track of all phone contacts made when trying clear your credit and name.

However, if you are not a member of PrivacyAdvantage, you are advised by the U.S. Attorney General's office to:

  • Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.

  • Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your request in writing.

  • Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus and ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications:

    • Equifax Credit Information Services — Consumer Fraud Div.
      P.O. Box 105496
      Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
      Tel: (800) 997-2493
      www.equifax.com

    • Experian
      P.O. Box 2104
      Allen, Texas 75013-2104
      Tel: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
      www.experian.com

    • TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
      P.O. Box 390
      Springfield, PA 19064-0390
      Tel: (800) 680-7289
      www.transunion.com

  • Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities. And follow-up! Make sure that all creditors or credit bureaus have received what they need from you.

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help them resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Consumer Response Center.

    By Phone: Toll-free 877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)
    TDD 202-326-2502
    By Mail: Consumer Response Center
    Federal Trade Commission
    600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20580
    On the Web: www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm
    For Consumer Information: www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm

  • Review your credit reports regularly and make sure all changes you requested have taken effect.


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What is the Federal Trade Commission?

The Federal Trade (FTC) commission enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection laws, including the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the law that regulates consumer-reporting agencies, those who use credit reports, and those who furnish information to consumer reporting agencies. The FTC ensures that all three parties (consumers, consumer reporting agencies, and lenders) are treated in a fair and equitable manner.

The FTC's mission is to help the nation's markets function competitively and efficiently, unhampered by needless restrictions. It works to spotlight and eliminate acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. In general, the FTC tries to stop actions that threaten consumers' opportunities to exercise informed choice. It also performs economic analyses, when asked, to support its law enforcement efforts and to contribute to the policy as set forth by Congress, the Executive Branch, other independent agencies, and state and local governments.

In addition to carrying out its statutory enforcement responsibilities, the FTC advances the policies underlying Congressional mandates through cost-effective non-enforcement activities, such as consumer education.


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Payment/Delivery Options


What are my delivery options?
How do I change delivery methods?
Why am I not receiving my e-mail notifications?
How do I update my mailing address or e-mail address?

What are my delivery options?

All members registered on the Web site have the choice of delivery via e-mail or regular mail. In addition, members registered online have the added option of choosing to receive their alerts through their text-enabled cellular phone or pager service.

If you provided your e-mail address during enrollment, you will automatically begin receiving Notify Express service to your e-mail account. If you have not provided your e-mail address, your method of delivery will be to your postal address on file.


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How do I change delivery methods?

You can change your delivery options at any time. Once you have logged on to the member’s section of the Web site, you have the option of choosing either mail or e-mail delivery of your products through the Account Information menu.


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Why am I not receiving my e-mail notifications?

You may not be receiving your e-mail notifications for one of the following reasons:

  • Invalid E-mail Address: you may have entered your e-mail address incorrectly or we may have an old e-mail address on file. Once you have logged on to the member’s section of the Web site, you can make sure your e-mail address is listed correctly through the Account Information menu.
  • Delivery Options: you will only receive e-mail notifications if you have selected online delivery for receipt of your information. Once you have logged on to the member’s section of the Web site, you can check your delivery option settings by accessing the Account Information menu.
  • Spam Filters: some SPAM filters may prevent you from receiving service notifications. Please check the settings for any spam filters you have to ensure that you can receive e-mail notifications.


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How do I update my mailing address or e-mail address?

Contact our Credit Education Specialists directly at 1-800-503-3369 to change your mailing address. You can change your e-mail address by logging on to the member’s section of the Web site and accessing the Account Information menu.


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All About Credit Reports


What is a credit bureau?
How do the credit bureaus obtain information?
Do all three credit bureaus have the same information on file?
Who can look at my credit report?
How long does information stay in my credit report?
At what age do credit-reporting agencies start recording a person's credit history?
Why should I check my credit report?
How often should I check my credit report?
How do I dispute inaccurate information?
What is a Public Record?
What are Collection Items?
What are inquiries?
How long does it take for a closed account to be removed from my credit file?
Are there sample letters available to me to address credit disputes or identity theft?

What is a credit bureau?

Credit bureaus, or credit reporting agencies, are basically clearinghouses for information about consumers' credit. When you apply for credit, they provide this information to qualified requestors. There are three main credit bureaus: Equifax, based in Atlanta, Georgia; Experian, based in Allen, Texas; and TransUnion, based in Springfield, Pennsylvania.


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How do the credit bureaus obtain information?

Credit bureaus collect information from banks, savings and loans, credit unions, finance companies, and retailers about your credit, which they store in a computer database.


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Do all three credit bureaus have the same information on file?

No, because lenders send information to some and not others. Credit bureaus receive more than two billion pieces of data each month, so it's a given that mistakes are going to happen. (An independent study by Arthur Andersen, however, showed that only one-fifth of 1 percent of these errors led to someone being denied credit.)

Credit reports are available from three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and these "big three" do not exchange information with each other. Therefore each of them may have different information, depending on who and what was reported to them. What is on one report may differ from another.


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Who can look at my credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act stipulates that lenders to whom a consumer has applied for a loan can view credit reports — for example, credit card companies and financial institutions supplying auto loans and mortgages. But the list continues: landlords, utility companies, phone companies, hospitals, doctors, dentists, insurance companies, credit unions, finance companies, banks, retailers, department stores, credit card companies, car dealers, mortgagers, investigators, lawyers, courts — most anyone who can give the bureaus just cause can view your credit report.


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How long does information stay in my credit report?

Public records and collection items stay on your report for seven years with the exception of bankruptcies, which stay on for ten years. Unpaid tax liens remain for 15 years. Positive information remains indefinitely, although agencies can remove it after seven years. Inquiries remain for two years.


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At what age do credit-reporting agencies start recording a person's credit history?

At 18 years of age, your credit is compiled and reported to the credit reporting agencies.


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Why should I check my credit report?

Just as you have medical and dental check-ups periodically, so should you check your credit report. Knowing what's in your credit report arms you with the information you need — your credit standing — when trying to secure favorable rates for a mortgage or other loan. Also, if you regularly check your credit report, you can guard against identity theft, one of the fastest-growing federal crimes in the nation.


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How often should I check my credit report?

With the explosive growth of identity theft, experts recommend checking your credit report as routinely as you check the weather. That way, when there's a change you don't recognize, you can take steps to halt what could be illegal pilfering of your personal information.


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How do I dispute inaccurate information?

Immediately contact the credit bureau that reported the inaccurate information (be sure to keep records of all correspondence, phone calls or emails). The bureau will then check with the original source. If this inaccuracy persists, add a statement to the credit report specifying why the item is wrong. This dispute process can take up to 30 days.


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What is a Public Record?

Information on tax liens, lawsuits, bankruptcies and judgments that relate to the consumer's debt obligations. Most public record items are listed for seven years including successfully completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Other bankruptcies are listed for 10 years. Tax liens are listed for seven years from the date paid.


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What are Collection Items?

Collection items are accounts sent to a collection agency, which are listed in your credit report for seven years from the date the account was 180 days delinquent with the original creditor.


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What are inquiries?

Companies that have requested your credit file within the past two years. Companies that inquire for marketing purposes do not affect your credit rating.


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How long does it take for a closed account to be removed from my credit file?

The file will be updated in 30 to 60 days, but reportable information stays on seven years from the date of the last activity.


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Are there sample letters available to me to address credit disputes or identity theft?

We created sample dispute letters to make your dispute process easier. Simply click on the links below, customize each letter with your personal information, print and mail.

  Sample Credit Dispute Letter
  Sample Letter to Credit Issuer
  Sample Letter to Police Department
  Sample Identity Theft Letter


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All About Credit Scores


What is a credit score?
What if I do not receive a credit score?
What is the credit score range?
How does my credit score affect me?
How often does my credit score change?
Do late payments affect my credit score?
Do inquiries affect my credit score?
Does co-signing a loan affect my credit score?

What is a credit score?

A credit score, calculated from variables in your credit report and other factors determined by the lending institution, is a rating tool used by lenders to gauge an individual's creditworthiness.


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What if I do not receive a credit score?

A credit score can't be generated if there's no information in a credit report, so individuals with little or no credit history will generally not have a score.

To remedy this situation, consider applying for a retail, gas or secured credit card to establish credit. Then keep your debt low and pay your bills on time to establish your credit history on a positive note.


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What is the credit score range?

Credit scores range from 350 to 850 — a higher number represents a stronger financial position.


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How does my credit score affect me?

Credit scores, calculated from such information in your credit file as total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments, age of accounts, and number of inquiries, give lenders a subjective rating of your creditworthiness. Lenders then consider this rating when deciding whether or not to extend you credit. It's in your best interest, therefore, to keep your credit as robust as possible so you can secure favorable rates and terms. If your credit score is weak, you can often strengthen it by minimizing outstanding debt, avoiding overextension, and limiting new credit applications.


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How often does my credit score change?

Your credit score fluctuates as often as information in your credit file changes.


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Do late payments affect my credit score?

Yes, late payments negatively affect your score — paying your bills on time is the single most important contributor to a good credit score.


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Do inquiries affect my credit score?

It depends on the type of inquiry. Inquiries for marketing purposes do not affect your score. These include consumer requests for a credit report, lenders using credit information to review an account, or a potential employer looking over someone's credit. Inquiries initiated by the consumer, such as mortgage, auto loan and credit card applications, however, do affect your score because studies have shown that too many are a red flag for credit risk. Inquiries do not weigh as heavily, however, as past payment history or number of delinquent accounts.


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Does co-signing a loan affect my credit score?

Yes. Any loan or credit card account affects your score.


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