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FCC Facts--Your Access to FREE Credit Reports

FCC Facts--Your Access to FREE Credit Reports

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Published by Sami Hartsfield

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Published by: Sami Hartsfield on Nov 14, 2011
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Your Access to Free Credit Reports
he Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requireseach o the nationwide credit reportingcompanies — Equiax, Experian, and ransUnion —to provide you with a ree copy o your credit report,at your request, once every 12 months. Te FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy o inormation inthe les o the nations credit reporting companies.Te Federal rade Commission (FC), the nation’sconsumer protection agency, enorces the FCRA  with respect to credit reporting companies. A credit report includes inormation on where youlive, how you pay your bills, and whether you’vebeen sued or arrested, or have led or bankruptcy.Nationwide credit reporting companies sell theinormation in your report to creditors, insurers,employers, and other businesses that use it toevaluate your applications or credit, insurance,employment, or renting a home.Here are the details about your rights under theFCRA, which established the ree annual creditreport program.
Q: How do I order my ree report?
 A: Te three nationwide credit reporting companieshave set up a central website, a toll-ree telephonenumber, and a mailing address through which youcan order your ree annual report.o order, visit
, call1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual CreditReport Request Form and mail it to: Annual CreditReport Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta,GA 30348-5281. Te orm is on the back o thisbrochure; or you can print it rom
. Do not contact the three nationwidecredit reporting companies individually. Tey areproviding ree annual credit reports only through
, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You may order your reports rom each o the threenationwide credit reporting companies at the sametime, or you can order your report rom each o the companies one at a time. Te law allows youto order one ree copy o your report rom each o the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12months.
A Warning About“Imposter” Websites
Only one website is authorized to ll orders or theree annual credit report you are entitled to underlaw —
. Other websitesthat claim to oer “ree credit reports,” “ree creditscores,” or “ree credit monitoring” are not part
October 2011
o the legally mandated ree annual credit reportprogram. In some cases, the “ree” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites signyou up or a supposedly “ree” service that convertsto one you have to pay or ater a trial period. I you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company startcharging ees to your credit card.Some “imposter” sites use terms like “ree report”in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell
in the hope thatyou will mistype the name o the ocial site. Someo these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites thattry to sell you something or collect your personalinormation.
 and the nationwide creditreporting companies will notsend you an email asking oryour personal inormation. I you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone callrom someone claiming tobe rom
or any o the threenationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably ascam. Forward any such email to the FC at
Q: What inormation do I need to provide to get my ree report?
 A: You need to provide your name, address, SocialSecurity number, and date o birth. I you havemoved in the last two years, you may have to provideyour previous address. o maintain the security o your le, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you or some inormation that only you would know, like the amount o your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you ordierent inormation because the inormation eachhas in your le may come rom dierent sources.
Q: Why do I want a copy o my credit report?
 A: Your credit report has inormation that aects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy o your credit report to: 
make sure the inormation is accurate, complete,and up-to-date beore you apply or a loan or amajor purchase like a houseor car, buy insurance, orapply or a job. 
help guard againstidentity thet. Tat’s whensomeone uses your personalinormation — like yourname, your Social Security number, or your credit cardnumber — to commit raud.Identity thieves may use yourinormation to open a new credit card account inyour name. Ten, when they don’t pay the bills,the delinquent account is reported on your creditreport. Inaccurate inormation like that couldaect your ability to get credit, insurance, or evena job.
Q: How long does it take to get my report ater Iorder it?
 A: I you request your report online at
, you should be able to
Only one website is authorized to ll orders or the fee annual credit report  you are entitled to under law— annualcreditreport.com.
FTC Facts
For Consumers
access it immediately. I you order your reportby calling toll-ree1-877-322-8228, your report will be processed and mailedto you within 15 days. I youorder your report by mailusing the Annual CreditReport Request Form, yourrequest will be processed andmailed to you within 15 dayso receipt. Whether you order your report online, by phone, orby mail, it may take longer to receive your report i the nationwide credit reporting company needs moreinormation to veriy your identity.
Q: Are there any other situations where I might be eligible or a ree report?
 A: Under ederal law, you’re entitled to a ree reporti a company takes adverse action against you, suchas denying your application or credit, insurance,or employment, and you ask or your report within60 days o receiving notice o the action. Te notice will give you the name, address, and phone numbero the credit reporting company. You’re also entitledto one ree report a year i you’re unemployed andplan to look or a job within 60 days; i you’re on welare; or i your report is inaccurate because o raud, including identity thet. Otherwise, a creditreporting company may charge you up to $11.00or another copy o your report within a 12-monthperiod.o buy a copy o your report, contact: 
Experian: 1-888-397-3742;
ransUnion: 1-800-916-8800;
transunion.comQ: Should I order a report rom each o the threenationwide credit reporting companies?
  A: It’s up to you. Becausenationwide credit reportingcompanies get theirinormation rom dierentsources, the inormationin your report rom onecompany may not refect all,or the same, inormationin your reports rom the other two companies.Tat’s not to say that the inormation in any o your reports is necessarily inaccurate; it just may bedierent.
Q: Should I order my reports rom all three o thenationwide credit reporting companies at thesame time?
 A: You may order one, two, or all three reports atthe same time, or you may stagger your requests. It’syour choice. Some nancial advisors say staggeringyour requests during a 12-month period may bea good way to keep an eye on the accuracy andcompleteness o the inormation in your reports.
Q: What i I fnd errors — either inaccuraciesor incomplete inormation — in my credit report?
 A: Under the FCRA, both the credit reportingcompany and the inormation provider (that is,the person, company, or organization that providesinormation about you to a credit reportingcompany) are responsible or correcting inaccurateor incomplete inormation in your report. otake ull advantage o your rights under this law,
 I you request your report online at  annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to accessit immediately.
FTC Facts
For Consumers

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