Your Rights as a Consumer

Not too many years ago, before credit reform laws were put into effect by the Federal government, credit agencies like Equifax used what they called a ‘closed system’ of reporting your credit info. What that meant was that we, as consumers, had no idea what their reports had in them and no way to change what they said.  There was also no ‘positive’ info listed, only negative, and they were also allowed to include information about a person’s lifestyle including sexual orientation and even past drug problems. (Hard to imagine isn’t it?)

That all changed in 1971 when the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed into law by the US Congress, a significant piece of legislation and the 1st of its kind to protect the rights of the consumer (you and me) from credit agencies and their sometimes racist and immoral policies.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives all consumers certain rights, including;

  • A complete copy of your credit report (for a fee).
  • The knowledge of who has requested your report.
  • The right to have errors removed within 30 days.
  • The right to add your own comments to the report.
  • Statutes of limitations for bad credit that have to be abided.
  • The right to not have your credit information sold or have your access restricted.

Following this legislation another act was passed called the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) that gave every US Citizen the right to request 1 FREE copy of their credit report every year from the ‘Big 3’ companies including Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They also passed several other provisions protecting people from identity theft.

Your credit report is free but if you want your credit score you’ll need to pay $6.00 to each of the Big 3.  You can purchase as many reports as you want after the 1st freebie for less than $10.00. In order to get your report or credit score you can go online to www.annualcreditreport.com or call them at (877) 322-8228.  You can also print, fill out and send this form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

If you go online to annualcreditreport.com you simply select the State that you live in and hit ‘request report’. You’ll be taken to a new page where you enter your personal info and then be asked which of the 3 agencies you’d like to send you your report.  You can request only 1 or all 3 but remember that you only get 1 freebie every 12 months.

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