Free Credit Reports - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Free Credit Reports

Alabamians can check their credit reports for free to make sure they are accurate and not dragging down their credit rating.

NOTE:  Only the credit report itself is free, companies are free to and often do charge for FICO scores and other related services.  You are not obligated to purchase any item or service to get your free credit report.

A law enacted by Congress gives consumers free access to their credit reports.

Barbara Evans, executive director of the consumer education group Alabama Watch, says with the huge increase in identity theft, people need to keep a regular check on their credit reports.

A credit report contains information on where a person lives, how the person pays bills, and whether the person has been bankrupt, arrested or sued. Consumer reporting firms sell the information to businesses where consumers seek credit, such as car dealers and furniture stores, as well as to insurance firms and employers.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act allows consumers to get a copy of their credit report for free once a year from the three big national credit reporting firms: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The Federal Trade Commission says the reports can be requested all at once or can be staggered.

Please Note: Under a new federal law, you may have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. To request your free annual report under that law, you must go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Other web sites are not affiliated with the annual free credit report program.

The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.

To order, click on www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You can print it from www.ftc.gov/credit.

Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are only providing free annual credit reports through www.annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two. The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

Robert McLeod, a professor at the University of Alabama who specializes in personal financial planning, recommends that consumers get all three reports because the firms use different methodology and different databases to compile their reports.

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