The last time Attorney General Darrel McGraw was in Logan it was to help the Logan Circuit Court with funding for the Day Report Center.
This time, McGraw came to town to help senior citizens deal with their credit reports and to avoid being swindled.
The state of West Virginia leads the nation in having the oldest per capita residents, and McGraw came to town Monday with a seminar about credit related topics which affect the elderly. McGraw presented the "Credit Car" seminar which has been touring the state since Jan. 2007.
"More than 80 percent of all credit reports contain at least one error," McGraw said. "Just one error on a credit report can cause an individual to be denied an application for a loan or credit. That is why we are working to assist people with getting copies of their credit report and helping them to understand what it means. As well, consumers need to know what to do in the event they find an error. This is one of the most valuable services we can offer consumers. Last year, our office received over 2,000 complaints regarding credit matters."
The public can obtain a free copy of their credit report under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, according to McGraw. Individuals have the right to obtain free credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies; Trans Union; Experian and Equifax annually. There is often confusion over various groups offering "free" credit report packages which, unknown to the consumer, have certain requirements and costs. McGraw said he wanted to help consumers navigate through misleading offers and misinformation.
"Most people don't realize there is only one website that is authorized to provide free credit reports with no strings attached, which is www.annualcreditreport.com," McGraw said. "From there, you can get copies of your credit report from all three of the major credit reporting agencies."
Information and assistance can be found online at www.wvago.gov or by calling the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.
"You owe it to yourself to check your credit report every year," McGraw added. "Even better, check one of your three credit reports every four months to monitor your credit on a regular basis. Many people don't realize they have been the victim of identity fraud or reporting error until it is too late. Be proactive. It can mean the difference between getting a good interest rate on a home or car loan and being denied a loan altogether. It can even cost you the job you're trying to get."
McGraw distributed packages with information and other items to the seniors attending the seminar.
Groups interested in the Credit Car seminar can contact Noah Barnes, Consumer Advocate at (304) 541-3540.
Julia Stevenson also discussed various ways in which swindlers and con artists target the elderly as part of the seminar.