Here is the news many of you have been
waiting for about how to access the free annual credit reports.
To make it quick, easy and workable a special telephone
number, web site and mail to address have been established
by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for consumer use in
requesting the free reports.
The individual credit reporting agencies WILL NOT HONOR a request for a
free credit report if consumers contact them directly.
ALL REQUESTS for free credit reports MUST go through the
special web site:
www.annualcreditreport.com , or the special telephone number:
1-877-322-8228 or the special mailing address:
Annual Credit Report Request Service PO Box
105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Your access to Free Annual Credit Reports and Free
Soon you'll be able to get your credit report for free. A
recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act
(FCRA) a/k/a Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA)
requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting
companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit
report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA/FACTA
promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the
files of the nation's consumer reporting companies.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer
protection agency, enforces the FCRA/FACTA with respect to
consumer reporting companies.
A credit report contains information on where you live,
how you pay your bills, and whether you've been sued,
arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer
reporting companies sell the information in your report to
creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that
use it to evaluate your applications for credit,
insurance, employment, or renting a home. There are three
nationwide consumer reporting companies ' Equifax,
Experian, and Trans Union.
Consumers May Also Get Free "Specialty" Reports
The arrival of free credit reports
was a great benefit for consumers and it doesn't
stop there. Another type of report, commonly
referred to as "specialty consumer reports," that
individuals may obtain at no charge. (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm)
The federal law that requires credit reporting
bureaus to provide free reports is the Fair and
Transactions Act, also known as FACTA. The law also
gives consumers the right to one free report
prepared by a "nationwide specialty consumer
reporting agency" that compiles files on consumers
-- Medical records or payments (for example, the
Medical Information Bureau or MIB report).
-- Residential or tenant history. (for example, the
Unlawful Detainer Registry or UDR
-- Check writing history (for example ChexSystems,
-- Employment history (for example, background
checks provided by Choicepoint).
-- Insurance claims (Comprehensive
Loss Underwriting Exchange
- or the CLUE report).
access to a "specialty" report began on December
1st, 2004, for all consumers nationwide. FTC
require companies that prepare reports on consumers
for employment, insurance claims, rental, check
writing, and medical records history, as a minimum,
to establish a toll free telephone number for
ordering free file disclosures. Specialty reporting
companies may also provide information on a web
Not everyone has a need to obtain every free
specialty report. Consumers should order a
"specialty" report before shopping for new
homeowners or automobile insurance, opening a new
checking account, applying for private health or
life insurance, or renting a home or apartment.
Job applicants who have consistently been turned
down for a job can also benefit from this new FACTA
right. Employers, landlords, insurance companies
and banks that use specialty consumer reports are
obligated to give consumers a free report if
services are denied. However, the new FACTA
provision gives consumers the chance to get their
file free directly from the companies that prepare
these specialty reports.
Consumers who find errors in a "specialty" report
have the same rights to dispute as with errors found
in a credit report.
More information and Resources about Specialty
Free credit reports web site and phone number,
shared by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion:
http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call
Federal Trade Commission information on free credit
PRC information on specialty consumer reports:
Employment background checks:
For more information on FACTA,
Beth Givens (619) 298-3396 - Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit
consumer information and advocacy organization based
in San Diego, CA.
Check Approval Systems
The companies listed below compile data on checks,
both business and
personal, processed through normal banks and credit
Many financial institutions use the Shared Check
Network (SCAN). Some of the firms also act as
of an unpaid check for their subscribers.
Use the telephone numbers below to report the
use of your checks, or to request your file,
IF you have
been the victim of check forgery or have had non
funds activity on your checking account(s).
Q: Why would I want to get a copy of my credit report?
A: You may want to review your credit report: because the
information it contains affects whether you can get a loan
' and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. to
make sure the information is accurate, complete, and
up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major
purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for
a job. to help guard against identity theft. That's when
someone uses your personal information ' like your name,
your Social Security number, or your credit card number '
to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information
to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when
they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is
reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information
like that could affect your ability to get credit,
insurance, or even a job.
Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Reports:
Q: How long does it take to get my report after I order
A: If you request your report online at
www.annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to
If you order your report by calling toll-free
877-322-8228, your report will be processed and mailed to
you within 15 days. If you order your report by mail using
the Annual Credit Report Request Form, your request will
be processed and mailed to you within 15 days of receipt.
Whether you order your report online, by phone, or by
mail, it may take longer to receive your
report if the nationwide consumer reporting company needs
more information to verify your identity.
There may be times when the nationwide consumer reporting
companies receive an extraordinary
volume of requests for credit reports. If that happens,
you may be asked to re-submit your request.
Or, you may be told that your report will be mailed to you
sometime after 15 days from your request. If either of
these events occurs, the nationwide consumer reporting
companies will let you know.
Q: Are there any other situations where I might be
eligible for a free report?
A: Under federal law, you're entitled to a free report if
a company takes adverse action against you,
such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or
employment, and you ask for your report
within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The
notice will give you the name, address, and
phone number of the consumer reporting company. You're
also entitled to one free report a year if
you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60
days; if you're on welfare; or if your report is
inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up
to $9 for another copy of your report within a 12-month
To purchase a copy of your report, contact:
Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine,
Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already
have free access to their credit reports.
Q: Should I order a report from each of the three
nationwide consumer reporting companies?
A: It's up to you. Because nationwide consumer reporting
companies get their information from
different sources, the information in your report from one
company may not reflect all, or the same, information in
your reports from the other two companies. That's not to
say that the information in any of your reports is
necessarily inaccurate; it just may be different.
Q: Should I order my reports from all three of the
nationwide consumer reporting companies at the
A: You may order one, two, or all three reports at the
same time, or you may stagger your requests.
It's your choice. Some financial advisors say staggering
your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way
to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the
information in your reports.
Q: What if I find errors ' either inaccuracies or
incomplete information ' in my credit report?
A: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the consumer
reporting company and the information provider (that is,
the person, company, or organization that provides
information about you to a consumer reporting company) are
responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete
information in your report. To take advantage of all your
rights under this law, contact the consumer reporting
company and the information provider.
1.Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what
information you think is inaccurate. Consumer
reporting companies must investigate the items in question
' usually within 30 days ' unless they consider your
dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant
data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization
that provided the information. After the information
provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer
reporting company, it must investigate, review the
relevant information, and report the results back to the
consumer reporting company. If the information provider
finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must
notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies
so they can correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting
company must give you the written results and a free copy
of your report if the dispute results in a change. (This
free report does not count as your annual free report
under the FACT Act.) If an item is changed
or deleted, the consumer reporting company cannot put the
disputed information back in your file unless the
information provider verifies that it is accurate and
complete. The consumer reporting company also must send
you written notice that includes the name, address, and
phone number of the information provider.
2.Tell the creditor or other information provider in
writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify
an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item
to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice
of your dispute. And if you are correct ' that is,
if the information is found to be inaccurate ' the
information provider may not report it again.
Q: What can I do if the consumer reporting company or
information provider won't correct the
information I dispute?
A: If an investigation doesn't resolve your dispute with
the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a
statement of the dispute be included in your file and in
future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting
company to provide your statement to anyone who received a
copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to
pay a fee for this service.
If you tell the information provider that you dispute an
item, a notice of your dispute must be included any time
the information provider reports the item to a consumer
Q: How long can a consumer reporting company report
A: A consumer reporting company can report most accurate
negative information for seven years and bankruptcy
information for 10 years. There is no time limit on
reporting information about criminal convictions;
information reported in response to your application for a
job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information
reported because you've applied for more than $150,000
worth of credit or life insurance. Information about a
lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported
for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs
out, whichever is longer.
Q: Who else can get a copy of my credit report?
A: The Fair Credit Reporting Act specifies who can access
your credit report. Creditors, insurers, employers, and
other businesses that use the information in your report
to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance,
employment, or renting a home are among those that have a
legal right to access your report.
Q: Can my employer get my credit report?
A: Your employer can get a copy of your credit report only
if you agree. A consumer reporting company may not provide
information about you to your employer, or to a
prospective employer, without your written consent.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent,
deceptive and unfair business Practices in the marketplace
and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop,
and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call
toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY:
1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing,
identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into
Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to
hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in
the U.S. and abroad.
Q: What is Opt-Out?
A: The three national
credit bureaus offer a toll-free number enabling
consumers to "opt out"
of pre-approved credit offers with just one phone
call. 1-888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688).