New law means you can get a free copy of your credit reports

| Friday, December 03, 2004

Starting this month, people who live in 13 western states will be able to get a copy of their credit reports for free, the Federal Trade Commission announced recently.

The reports, which are being required under recent changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, are available through the Web site www.annualcreditreport.com.

By ordering their credit reports, truckers can make sure everything on their report is correct, and that there is no false information that could adversely affect their credit – and therefore their business. In addition, truckers can also obtain a copy of their DAC reports under the new rules. DAC reports are covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Under the new provisions of the law, people who live in 13 western states will have access to their reports now, but within nine months, all Americans will have access.

The first 13 states where residents can get access to their reports are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Residents of the rest of the states will have access to their reports on the following schedule:

  • March 1, 2005 – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin;
  • June 1, 2005 – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas; and
  • Sept. 1, 2005 – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. That date will also include the District of Columbia and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.

Truckers who want to get a copy of their credit report can do it three ways:

  • Order it online through www.annualcreditreport.com;
  • Call 1-877-322-8228; or
  • Complete an Annual Credit Report Request Form available through the FTC and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

The FTC says that when you order, you need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.

For truckers who find the reports – with their mass of codes and jargon – difficult to read, the Consumers Union, the organization the publishes Consumer Reports magazine, has published a guide that helps readers review the report for accuracy and correct mistakes if any are found. The guide is available at: http://www.consumersunion.org/issues/creditmatters.html.

For example, the Consumers Union says truckers reviewing their credit reports should make sure:

  • That their names, addresses, social security numbers and all other personal information is correct;
  • That there are no accounts, debts, bankruptcies or other judgments on their reports that don’t belong to them;
  • That their payment histories and balances are correct; and
  • That any errors they have reported in the past have been corrected.

The organization says its guide also has advice about what to do if you discover that you are the victim of identity theft.

-- Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Mark_Reddig@landlinemag.com

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