University of Illinois Extension

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act

Identity theft crime has grown to epidemic proportions in recent years. With the passage of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, Congress adopted a number of measures aimed at prevention of and help for victims of identity theft. Included are provisions for accuracy of information, privacy, limits on information sharing, and new consumer rights to disclosure. The new law provides the following rights for consumers.

Free Copy of Credit Reports Each Year to Anyone - Consumers have the right to get a free copy of their credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This allows you to check your report for inaccurate information or unauthorized activity. The law applies only to a free copy of your credit report; if you want your credit score, you will need to purchase it from one of the credit reporting agencies.

To get a free copy of your credit report, order online, by mail, or by phone. Go to the official government web site, www.annualcreditreport.com, to order your report online or download the Annual Credit Report Request form to mail in your request. You can also call 1-877-322-8228. Your reports will be mailed to you within 2-3 weeks if ordered by mail or phone. Only use the official sources above to get your free reports to insure that your personal information will be kept secure and private.

You can order all three reports at the same time or stagger receiving them throughout the year. The advantage of ordering them all at one time is that you can compare the information in the reports and make sure it is accurate in all three. If you stagger the reports, for example, one report every four months, you will be able to monitor whether there are changes to current information or new information. Remember, you are only allowed one free report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

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