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Free Credit Report is a Right

By Faye Mergel
Published: Monday, September 7th, 2009

A credit report is important but it does not have to be costly. In fact, consumers can get it for free. Couch potatoes can well attest to that, with the television commercials for free credit reports. However, no one will pay for huge commercial fees to advertise a free service. Monica Laliberte, television anchor and finance expert, says that those TV ads for Freecreditreport.com and other websites are not that accurate.

Free Credit Report is a RightConsumers are tempted by those ads but when they go to those sites, they find out that free comes with a little fee. They will be charged with “credit monitoring service,” which basically tantamount to paying for one’s credit report. 

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA or FACT Act), gives the consumers right to ask for free credit report from the three big credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Although these credit bureaus are privately-owned and have no government affiliations, they are mandated by law to provide consumers with free credit report once a year. But consumers must keep in mind that they can only for a free report once a year. Any subsequent request will have to be charged on their pocket.

A credit report can be obtained online through ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM. The website, established by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, describes itself as a “site set up by the big three credit reporting agencies in the United States, to furnish free annual credit reports, as required by federal law.”

Consumers can get their credit report for free at ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM after providing some financial and personal information. This includes state, most recent and previous address, and Social Security number (SSN).

Credit specialists warn consumers about bogus websites. There are websites who collect information from consumers with the aim of stealing their identity. Identity theft has been rampant lately and many consumers have their credit report filled up with anomalous items.

Consumers are advised to give information only to trusted websites and organizations. In case of identity theft, FACT Act advises consumers to immediately flag their account. They can place a fraud alert to a credit reporting agency after providing proof of their identity. The law also gives consumers who flag their account the privilege of an extra free credit report during the first 12 months of the alert.

A final note by credit specialists: consumers should check their credit report annually. It keeps them on track with their credit standing and prevents identity theft.

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