Remind Your Clients to Check Their Credit
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
The purpose of the FCRA is to promote the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.
A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell this information to creditors, insurance companies, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
How do you order a free report?
The three biggest credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
You can visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Do not contact these companies directly. They only provide the free annual credit reports through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or via mailing in the form.
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.
Be Careful About “Imposter” Websites
Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — annualcreditreport.com. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.
In many cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, on some sites when you sign up for a supposedly “free” service it converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.
Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. You can forward any such email to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because a credit score has become such an important factor in establishing insurance premiums you would serve your clients well by reminding them to check their credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies at least annually. Have you let your clients know about this? What other information do you offer your clients on your website?