Jeanette A. Tucker | 5/27/2005 2:18:51 AM
Residents of Louisiana and other southern states may begin requesting their free credit reports on June 1, 2005, according to LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003 entitles consumers to obtain a free copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, each year.
Tucker says the free credit report, or credit file disclosure, provides consumers with all of the information in their credit file maintained by the credit reporting agency that could be provided by that consumer credit reporting agency in a credit report about you to a third party, such as a lender.
The free credit file also includes a listing of "inquiries," a record of everyone who has received your credit report from that particular credit reporting agency within a certain period of time.
The free credit report also discloses certain information that is not included in a consumer report about you to a third party, such as corporate inquiries for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance, account reviews and any medical account information that is suppressed for third party users of consumer reports.
The free credit report can be requested online at http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com, by phone at 1-877-322-8228 or by mail by sending a completed downloadable request form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service for consumers to request their free annual credit reports. The service was created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to process requests for free consumer credit disclosures. It offers a fast and convenient way to request, view and print their credit reports in a secure Internet environment.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only service authorized by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for this purpose.
Tucker cautions, however, that, as a security precaution, consumers should never provide their personal information to any other company or person in connection with requesting free annual credit reports under the FACT Act. AnnualCreditReport.com will not approach consumers via e-mail, telemarketing or direct mail solicitations. Consumers must enter their Social Security number to receive a free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com.
The site’s security protocols and measures are designed to protect the personally identifiable information you provide from unauthorized access or alteration. As an added security measure, you can choose to have your credit report display no more than the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Tucker says consumers are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies through AnnualCreditReport.com.
"It is entirely your choice whether you order all three credit file disclosures at the same time or order one now and others later," Tucker says, adding, "The advantage of ordering all three at the same time is that you can compare them."
The family economist points out, however, if you order all free credit reports at once, you will not be eligible for another free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com for 12 months.
On the other hand, if you order one now and others later (for example, one credit report every four months), you can keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit report.
She says also to remember you are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – so if you order from only one company today you can still order from the other two companies at a later date.
"The free annual credit reports authorized by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act can be a tremendous benefit to Americans of every income level and background as they strive to build good credit and confront the problem of identity theft," Tucker says.
Residents of eastern states and all U. S. Territories will be eligible for this consumer benefit on September 1, 2005. Residents of western and Midwest states are already eligible to receive their free credit reports.
For information on related family and consumer topics, link to the FCS Web site from www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.