Your access to Your Free Annual Credit Reports and Specialty Reports
Home Tell a Friend! Contact ICFE Link Exchange Search ICFE Subscribe ICFE About the ICFE
ICFE News Releases ICFE in the News Children and Money Financial Education Personal Financial Counseling with Paul S. Richard, RFC Credit Card Tips Credit File Correction Mending Spending Links and Resources Order Options

FREE Annual Credit Reports and Specialty Reports
 

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 Specialty Reports

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 Accurate Credit
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 relating to:

-- 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 report).
-- Check writing history (for example ChexSystems, CheckRite, TeleCheck).
-- 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 regulations (www.ftc.gov/os/2004/06/040624factafreeannualfrn.pdf) 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 site.

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 Reports:

Free credit reports web site and phone number, shared by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion:
http://www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228

Federal Trade Commission information on free credit reports:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm

PRC information on specialty consumer reports:
CLUE (insurance):
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs26-CLUE.htm

MIB (medical):
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs8-med.htm

Employment background checks:
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs16-bck.htm

For more information on FACTA,
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6a-facta.htm

Contact:
Beth Givens (619) 298-3396  - Privacy Rights Clearinghouse  -   mailto:bgivens@privacyrights.org
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization based in San Diego, CA.  http://www.privacyrights.org
 


 
bullet Check Approval Systems
bullet
The companies listed below compile data on checks, both business and
personal, processed through normal banks and credit unions.
bullet
Many financial institutions use the Shared Check Authorization
Network (SCAN)
. Some of the firms also act as collection agents
of an unpaid check for their subscribers.

Use the telephone numbers below to report the fraudulent
use of your checks, or to request your file, IF you have
been the victim of check forgery or have had non sufficient
funds activity on your checking account(s).

 
ChexSystems    1-800-428-9623
CheckRite              1-800-766-2748
SCAN                       1-800-262-7771
TeleCheck              1-800-710-9898
Equifax                     1-800-437-5120
Nat'l ProCEUssing     1-800-526-5380

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 it?

A: If you request your report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to access it
immediately.

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 period.

To purchase a copy of your report, contact:

Equifax
800-685-1111
www.equifax.com

Experian
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
www.experian.com

Trans Union
800-916-8800
www.transunion.com

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
same time?

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 reporting company.

Q: How long can a consumer reporting company report negative information?

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).

.

 

 
Home ] ICFE News Releases ] ICFE in the News ] Children and Money ] Financial Education ] Resource Center ] Credit Card Tips ][ Credit File Correction ] Mending Spending ] Links and Resources ]  [ Online Store ]

 

Copyright ©  1997 - by Paul S. Richard
and the Institute of Consumer Financial Education, All Rights Reserved.
View our
Privacy Policy Our Terms and Conditions

Institute of Consumer Financial Education
PO Box 34070
San Diego, Ca 92163
Paul S. Richard, Executive Director
Phone 619-239-1401

FAX 619-923-3284

Questions for www.financial-education-icfe.org Click to go to Website Contact Us or 
Website Design Donated by Desgn School Programs