Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Take care when requesting your free credit report
Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). If you've ever tried to redeem that offer, you may have experienced confusion while trying to find the legitimate site from which to request your free report, annualcreditreport.com, or navigate through the ads on that site that could lead to you paying for a report.
Beginning April 1, 2010, rules imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take effect, making the request process more straightforward. Per the new rules, advertising on annualcreditreport.com must be moved to the end of the process after you have requested your free report, so as to not derail or confuse consumers. In addition, commercial websites offering free credit reports must include a disclosure across the top of every page that informs and directs consumers to annualcreditreport.com or their toll-free number, and advises that source to be "the ONLY authorized source under federal law."
Moderating your credit report may help prevent you from falling victim to identity theft and unnecessary loss. Make it a habit each year to request your free credit report from each of the three bureaus from annualcreditreport.com.
If you believe you have paid for a credit report you thought to be free, you can file a complaint at ftc.gov/freereports.