Q:  Is it safe to give my social security number out online for free credit reports?

A: I would say that yes, generally it is safe.  Make sure you’re choosing a reputable service, by doing your research ahead of time.  All the credit report monitoring services reviewed on our site have actually been used by us, and are “brand name” firms.  You don’t need to worry when signing up for one of their services.  They encrypt the entire sign up process, and only use your social security number to verify who you are and find your records.  Most of them also provide free trials, so you can sign up and get your credit report and/or credit scores for free, and then cancel if you don’t feel the service is right for you.

You should be hesitant to provide your social security number to one of the more fly-by-night services out there.  Also, if you’re on a public, and not a personal computer, make sure no one can read over your shoulder.  Furthermore, when you leave the computer you should sign out and delete all the stored browser cookies.  If this sounds too technologically scary, just use a personal computer to sign up.