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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting Free Copies of Your Credit Report

Thanks to the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) of 2003, you are allowed to request and obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies on an annual basis. You can do this by going to the government sponsored site

What this means is yes, your credit report is free - but not any time you want to view it. If you want to have access to your credit report whenever you like, you can buy a subscription to one of the Credit Reporting Agencies or one of their many resellers. These services usually begin around $15 a month and include some type of credit monitoring and additional tools and features to help you manage your credit.
Not only did the FACT Act allow you to view your credit history for free - for the first time - but it also included provisions to help you reduce your risk of identity theft. You now have the ability to add "fraud alerts" to your credit file which will let you know of any fraudulent applications for credit under your name. A consumer would use this option if they believe they were a victim of identity theft.
The alert requires any creditor that is asked to extend credit to contact the consumer by phone and verify that the credit application was not made by an identity thief.
So far, you are not legally entitled to view your credit score for free - only the report. However, since the score is derived from the information on the report, knowing what's on the report is most important.
A simple way to keep regular tabs on your credit history and make sure nothing fraudulent or unexpected is being reported is to request a report from one agency at a time, four months apart from each other. Doing so gives you a year-round ability to review your credit history at no charge. A better way, but costs some nominal amount, is to have your credit file monitored through a credit monitoring service. These services will monitor your credit file for changes and notify by email if something does. For example, perhaps a new credit line is opened in your name. The service would notify you of this and then you can decide if it is legitimate or not. Or, maybe a new address is added to your file. Not yours? Then it may be an indication that Identity Theft is about to start or has started already.
It is vital that you manage your credit wisely and one of the best (and easiest) things you can do is review your credit file and have it monitored for changes.
Skip Lahti
President and CEO
The Fair Credit Group, Inc.
Credit reports, scores, monitoring and additional tools for managing your credit

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