Updated November 23, 2004
SAN DIEGO, CA – Beginning December 1, consumers living in the western U.S. will have the right to order a free copy of their credit report thanks to a new federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, adopted by Congress in 2003. Consumers elsewhere in the nation will get the same right over the next year as the law is phased in across the country. By requiring credit reporting bureaus to provide free credit reports annually upon request, the new law enables consumers to more readily monitor if they are victims of identity theft or if their credit reports contain errors.
To help consumers take advantage of this new right, the Identity Theft Resource Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Consumers Union, and CALPIRG have posted information on their web sites about how to review your credit report and what to do if you find errors or evidence of identity theft. The groups urge consumers to obtain copies of their credit reports as an early warning for identity theft and to avoid having to pay more for credit as a result of potential errors contained in credit reports.
Starting December 1, consumers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming will be entitled to one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the nationwide credit bureaus. The major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Consumers will be able to request their free credit reports through a web site, toll-free telephone line, or by mail and will have the option of making a single request to get copies of their report from all three major credit bureaus. The credit bureaus are expected to announce the web site address, telephone number, and mailing address for ordering credit reports on December 1. This contact information will also be available online along with tips for consumers at: www.privacyrights.org, www.consumersunion.org, www.idtheftcenter.org, and www.calpirg.org.
The Federal Trade Commission released information about the phone number, web site and mail-in form that consumers can use to order their free annual credit reports. If you live in West Coast states that offer free credit reports beginning December 1, 2004 and would like to order your free credit reports on that day or after, go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order your reports or download the Annual Credit Report Request form to mail in your request. You can also call 877-322-8228. For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission's Facts for Consumers.
For more information about the rollout of free credit reports on the West Coast and other states and how to correct errors on your credit report, see pertinent sections of the PRC's Fact Sheet 6, How Private is My Credit Report at www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6-crdt.htm#FreeCR.