Your Credit Rights to Access Free Credit Reports

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free credit reportDo you know the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)  requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has prepared a brochure, Your Access to Free Credit Reports, explaining your rights under the FCRA and how to order a free annual credit report.

A credit report includes 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.

How do I order my free report?

You can order your free annual credit report online at annualcreditreport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service,
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

When you order, you need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.

A Warning About “Imposter” Sites and Trial Offers

If you want to order free annual credit reports online, make sure you spell annualcreditreport.com correctly to avoid being misdirected to other websites that offer supposedly free reports, but only with the purchase of other products. While you may be offered additional products or services while on the authorized website, you are not required to make a purchase to receive your free annual credit reports.

Chances are you’ve gotten offers to receive your credit reports through a “free trial”. A company may claim its free trial offer has no risk or obligation. And that may be true, but only if you take timely action to avoid future obligations. Read the whole offer carefully before you decide whether it’s a good deal for you. Never give in to pressure to agree to a deal. If you have a problem with a trial offer, try to resolve it with the seller first. If you’re dissatisfied with the response, contact your local Better Business Bureau or local consumer protection agency.

The FTC recently settled a lawsuit against ConsumerInfo over the “free credit report” promotion it marketed through advertising on television, radio an the Internet, including its websites of freecreditreport.com and consumerinfo.com. The settlement, among other things, provides for refunds to certain Consumerinfo customers.

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