PART TWO
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How to get your credit report

Obtaining a disclosure of your file at the consumer reporting agencies

In 2003, we passed a law that gives us an annual disclosure of our files at the consumer reporting agencies at no charge. In other words, now you can get a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus.

The official site to get your free annual credit report:

www.annualcreditreport.com

  • "How else can I request my free annual credit file disclosure [other than on the internet]?"
  • Rollout schedule
    Western states: December 1, 2004
    Midwest states: March 1, 2005
    Southern states: June 1, 2005
    Eastern states and all U.S. Territories: September 1, 2005
  • Otherwise, as of April 3, 2012, the maximum allowable charge for a consumer disclosure credit report is $11.50. (2011: $11.00; 2007: $10; 2006: $10; 2005: $9.50). To get your credit reports for a fee from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, see below.

    Mail, phone, or web
  • Detroit Free Press: "Using a phone could be simpler and smarter than going through the Internet."
  • Bankrate: "Phone (don't click) for your free credit report"
  • Is that the real web site?
  • Bob Sullivan, MSNBC: "Many free credit reports still aren't free" ("Updated: 4:55 p.m. ET May 10, 2005")
    "For example, visitors to Google’s search engine who type in 'free credit report' get a list of links for Web sites that ultimately sell services from Experian and Trans Union. AnnualCreditReport.com, the only place to get a free credit report, doesn’t make the first page of search results."
  • Knight Ridder: "SCAM FILE: Beware when requesting credit report"
  • Michigan Attorney General: "Even one mistyped letter could take you to a fraudulent web site that looks and feels like a place to order credit reports but in fact has been set up by ID thieves to harvest your information."
  • Illinois Attorney General: "Madigan suggested that one way to avoid the online confusion is for consumers to call the telephone hotline to obtain their reports."
  • Joint letter from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumers Union, US PIRG, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Consumer Federation of America, 12/04: "In typing in "www.annualcreditreport.com," an individual may misspell the URL, and thereby be directed to a fraudulent website with a similar URL."
  • The missing link (this brilliant idea didn't last long)
  • Joint letter from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumers Union, US PIRG, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Consumer Federation of America, 12/04: "Re: Free Annual Credit Report Site is Blocking Web Links"
  • Peter G. Miller, Realty Times: "Given this background, you might think that a website established to promote consumer access to federally-required free credit reports would want to generate as much traffic as possible."
  • U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) Ranking Democratic Member
    "Rep. Frank also found the websites of the three biggest nationwide consumer reporting agencies-Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union-lacked the clearly identifiable links to the centralized free report website that Congress intended."

    "My own investigation confinued these consumer group complaints and also found that the web pages of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies lacked clearly identifiable links to the centralized free report web site that Congress intended to be created and the FTC requested in final implementing regulations. The Equifax, Experian and TransUnion web sites provide obscured references to free credit reports in the lower comers of their main web pages, below more prominent solicitations for credit scores, credit monitoring services and "3-Bureau" credit reports. Two of these web sites required consumers to go to a second page containing additional marketing before finding the link to the free report web site."
  • Consumers' experiences
  • Salt Lake Tribune: "'Why can't these people get their act together? It seems like they are doing everything they can to make this as hard as possible.'"
  • Bankrate: "Readers have mixed results getting free reports"
  • What the credit reporting agency must send you, initially
    "All information in the consumer's file at the time of the request except that... "
    Definition of "file": "The term 'file,' when used in connection with information on any consumer, means all of the information on that consumer recorded and retained by a consumer reporting agency regardless of how the information is stored." (http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/050131fcra.pdf#page=5)
    Number of hits when searching that .pdf document (with "Whole words only" checked):
    credit report: 1
    consumer file: 1
    credit file: 2
    file: 88
    consumer report: 134

    There is no term defined for the document meant by "Disclosures to consumers" mentioned in § 609 [15 U.S.C. § 1681g].

    Other free file disclosures
  • ChoicePoint C.L.U.E
  • MIB
  • ChexSystems
  • Innovis

  • Katrina victims' credit reports

    Equifax, 10/10/05: "Equifax Offers Individuals Impacted by Hurricanes Access to Their Credit Files at No Charge - Equifax also offers tips on how consumers should take proactive steps to protect their credit while they rebuild their lives"

    (the grand announcement following the cry of "consumer orgainzations": "Credit Reporting Agencies Reject an Important Step to Help Hurricane Survivors: Many Katrina Victims Will Face Additional Economic Difficulties as Credit Scores Drop Due to Disaster"


    03/14/05

    June 4, 2004: "FTC Issues Final Rule on Free Annual Credit Reports"
    (gradual roll-out beginning in some states December 1, 2004)

    2004 price: $9.00 (higher in some states)


    2002 price: $9.00

    6/28/01

    10/16/01