Starting tomorrow, Illinois residents as well as those in other Midwest states will be able to take advantage of a new law that allows you to get a free copy of your credit report each year.
Last year, President Bush signed legislation that required each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and Trans-union to give you a free copy of your credit report each year.
The law is due to phase in over a period of nine months. Last December, residents in the western portion of the U.S. were able to get their credit reports for free, starting March 1st, residents in the Midwestern states can log on to www.annualcreditreport.com and apply for a free credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus.
Experian, Equifax and Trans-union have joined together to sponsor this one site to handle the millions of free credit report requests from consumers. And there’s the rub: you have to go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit reports. If you go online to the credit reporting bureaus own websites, you’ll have to pony up to get the same information.
To get your free credit report, you can call a toll-free number or write to a post-office box. But the best way to go is to request your free credit report online. Annualcreditreport.com will ask you to select your state and then fill out a simple form. You will need to provide your social security number and address. Your credit report will be sent to you after your identity is verified.
If you can’t remember the website name, you can always go to the federal trade commission’s website at www.ftc.gov and read about the new fact act law. You can link through the ftc.gov site to the annualcreditreport.com website.
The new law only requires credit reporting bureaus to give you a free copy of your credit report, but not your credit score. You’ll have to pay separately for that.
Don’t be fooled by other websites that claim to give you your credit report for free. What typically happens is that the credit report might be free, but to get it, you’ll have to hand over your credit card number and will be charged a monthly fee for “credit monitoring.”
Remember, if a website is asking for a credit card number, it’s not “free” no matter what they say.
Need personal finance advice or real estate advice? Send your questions to Ilyce Glink: www.ThinkGlink.com
Published: Feb 28, 2005