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Free credit reports available to all

All Americans are now entitled to receive free credit reports every year -- no strings attached. This comes as a welcomed relief to the millions of Americans who have had to pay to review their credit reports in the past. The free credit reports come as a result of the FTC's final ruling under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

Thanks to the ruling, the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are each required to provide consumers, upon request, a free credit report once every year. The agencies have been phasing in the free reports region-by-region, with the northeastern states finally getting their turn Sept. 1, 2005.

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The reports will not automatically be sent out. Consumers will need to request their information one of the following ways. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized source for consumers to access their annual credit report online for free. Or, call 877-322-8228. Lastly, you may complete the form on the back of the Annual Credit Report Request brochure, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281. You'll be able to order all three credit reports at one time, or at different times throughout the year. It's your choice. But, be sure to order from the centralized agency. If you go directly to the credit reporting agencies, you will be charged unless you fit other criteria for a free report.

The new ruling doesn't replace the other ways to receive a free credit report. If a company denies you credit, insurance or a job because of something in your credit report, that company has to tell you which credit bureau provided the information. You are entitled to a free credit report from that bureau within 60 days of being turned down.

When you request your free credit report by phone or mail, inform the credit agency that you were denied credit, insurance or a job. The credit bureau will check to see if it indeed provided information to the creditor, insurance company or employer that turned you down. Because bureaus are not notified when you are denied, they have to take your word for it.

You also are entitled to a free credit report if you are on welfare, are unemployed and plan to look for a job soon, or your credit report is inaccurate due to fraud -- in other words, because someone stole your identity.

To obtain additional copies of your report, in excess of what is allowed within a year, most states (see table below), will charge a fee ranging from $1 to $10. A fancier version, which includes your credit score and explanations on how it was obtained, costs a few dollars more. Residents in Georgia are entitled to another free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies each year.

A few states, including California, have capped the cost at a figure less than $10 as long as you order by phone or by mail.

If you order an additional report, you generally have to pay a fee, no matter where you live and what your circumstances. Find your state on the list below to see what the report will cost. You will notice that the fees from the three credit reporting agencies varies.

Cost
Where
How to get your copy
Free -- anytime
All U.S. states if:
1) you were denied credit, insurance or a job; or
2) you are on welfare or unemployed and looking for work; or
3) your report is inaccurate due to fraud
Free -- 1 per year Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
Free -- 1 per year Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$1.00 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$3.00 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$5.00 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$5.30 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$8.00 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$8.50 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (800) 311-4769
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
$9 Call:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111


On the Internet:
Equifax

$9.50 Call:
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213


On the Internet:
TransUnion

$9.50 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769


On the Internet:
Experian

$9.88 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$9.98 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$10.05 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$10.07 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$10.17 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
$10.28 Call:
Experian: (800) 311-4769
 
-- Updated: Sept. 1, 2005
     

 

 
 

 

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