Ask for Your FREE Credit Reports
Starting March 1, credit reports are available for free.
As of March 1, Iowans can obtain a FREE copy of their credit reports compiled by each of the three national
credit reporting bureaus. A new law entitles you to one free copy every twelve months. This is a great
opportunity -- and it can help stop identity theft.
The credit reporting companies collect information about you -- important information such as if you pay your
bills on time, account balances owing, and whether you've filed for bankruptcy or been sued or arrested. And
the companies sell your information to creditors, insurers, employers, landlords, and other businesses who
want to evaluate your credit.
Three national agencies compile credit reports - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union -- and now it's
free and very easy to get your reports. (The FTC required the agencies to set up a joint clearinghouse
for consumer requests.) Just go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Or call toll-free to 1-877-322-8228.
Or write to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can order all three, or stagger your requests.
Why should you obtain and examine your credit report? First of all, it is yours, and you probably should
see what lenders or others are reading about you. More reasons:
- Review your credit reports to be sure no one has stolen your identity. "Identity theft" usually means
someone uses your personal information to open new accounts under your name without you knowing it.
So, examine your report, and look for unfamiliar credit card accounts or other suspicious activity, such as
incorrect addresses or indications of delinquent payments.
- Check your credit reports to see if there are any errors -- and then get them corrected. Millions of
credit reports are sold every day, and research shows about one in four credit reports contains an error.
Errors might cause you to pay higher interest rates, or be denied a home loan, credit card, or even a new
job. Federal law and FTC rules give you very specific rights to dispute and correct your credit reports.
So, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Or go to www.FTC.gov (the Federal Trade Commission web site) for
even more information on how, why, where and when to get your free credit report, how to dispute errors, and
what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.
You also can
get to this information by going to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.
If you have complaints or questions, call us at 515-281-5926 or
toll-free at 1-888-777-4590. Or write to the Attorney General's
Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
* * * * * *
of key links for consumers:
Sites with good information about FREE CREDIT REPORTS:
Web site for requesting credit reports from the three national
credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.
www.FTC.gov (under "hot topics," click on "Information on Free Credit Reports.") This Federal Trade
Commission site is the best comprehensive and authoritative site on free credit reports. (The FTC
promulgated the regulations carrying out the new law giving consumers one free credit report per year from
each of the three national credit reporting companies.) The site has excellent Q&A's answering questions
such as: "How do I order my free report?" "What information do I have to provide to get my free report?"
(Generally, your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.) "What if I find errors in my credit
report?" and so on.
with good information about IDENTITY THEFT:
is the FTC site on identity theft - especially on what do do if
you are a victim.
is the US Postal Service web site on identity theft.
Iowa Attorney General's Office brochure
on How to Avoid Identity Theft. Includes many tips on how to keep
your personal information private so you won't become a victim.
Attorney General's office, A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft.
Includes many tips on practical steps to take if you have been