In 2003, The Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended to entitle consumers to a free annual report from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This law is only fair, considering that since the mid-1800s credit reporting agencies have been collecting consumers’ payment history as a means to report their payment history to future lenders. Today, even consumers with above-average ratings are having difficulty qualifying for mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. Credit card companies can increase their rates based on a poor item on your report, even if you’ve loyally paid your debt to them.
Now more than ever, it is important to check your credit reports. Under the law, you are entitled to a free report once every 12 months from each bureau. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you’ve received a notice saying that you were denied credit, employment, or insurance; if you’re unemployed and are planning on seeking employment within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud.
When requesting your free annual report, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your credit by spacing out those requests. For example, you request your Equifax credit report in January, your Experian credit report in May, and your TransUnion report in September. That way, you’ll have a better chance at catching errors – and fixing them – before a significant amount of time passes.
There are many websites that promote a free credit report, but once there, they require you to enter a credit card and purchase another product before you can receive it. To make sure you avoid this, you should use the Federal Trade Commission’s portal at www.annualcreditreport.com to access your credit report.
Once you pull your report, there may be an inaccuracy that can derail your life in any number of ways. Since landlords, lenders, insurance companies, and even potential employers can access your credit score, an inaccurate report can put you at an unfair disadvantage. If an inaccurate credit report has adversely affected you, you may have cause for legal action. Lemberg & Associates attorneys can file suit on your behalf against credit reporting agencies, creditors, and debt collectors who report false information, and help you get your credit – and life – back in order. Simply complete the form to the right for a free case evaluation.