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FTC Amends Rules to Provide Easy Access to Free Credit Reports

By Faye Mergel
Published: Thursday, April 1st, 2010

AGERM-00066439-001Federal Trade Commission of the United States of America announced on April 1, 2010 in its press release that it would be implementing a new rule effective from April 2, 2010. The amended rule would assist consumers in avoiding the existing confusion about various advertisements on ‘free credit reports’. These ads usually require the consumers to purchase credit monitoring and other credit-related services from the advertisers at a substantial cost. Very few people are aware that the credit reports are freely available at AnnualCreditReport.com, with no strings attached and federally mandated. The consumers could also call 1-877-322-8228 to obtain details of their credit reports. Alternately, they could fill up the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail the same to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Georgia. 30348-5281.

The FTC had amended its Free Credit Reports Rule, making it compulsory for all the advertisements on ‘free credit report offers’ to make clear disclosures. The FTC had stipulated that all the websites that offer free credit reports should display a disclosure at the top of each page mentioning free credit reports.

Further, the amended rule makes it necessary for the three national consumer reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to delay all advertisements on their products and services on the AnnualCreditReport.com website until the consumers had obtained their free reports. The amended rule would be effective from April 2, 2010. However, the wordings on disclosers for ads in television and radio had been allowed to comply with this rule from September 1, 2010.

The FTC had pointed out to the consumers that information in credit reports plays a crucial role in their obtaining loans, financial aids, and jobs. Hence, it had cautioned the consumers that checking their reports regularly and correcting inaccurate information is highly important. The FTC had stated that each of the three national credit reporting companies should provide consumers a free copy of their credit reports once in a year on request, within a reasonable period. The credit reporting companies could charge fees for extra reports but the first request for report should be considered as a free service.

Consumers residing in the United States could learn more details about free credit reports and their rights to them under the federal law from the website, http://www.ftc.gov/freereports. Consumers could also contact the Office of Public Affairs of the Federal Trade Commission at the phone number, 202-326-2180 for further information on credit report and credit rating related matters, as well as all other consumer related subjects.

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