Free credit reports are now available online, as required by the new Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). The free credit report provision of the FACT Act was passed last year, and became effective in December. (The act requires that you receive a free credit report, not necessarily a free credit report online; the online credit report aspect is how the credit reporting agencies are choosing to comply with the act.)
The FACT Act requires the big three credit reporting agencies, EquiFax, Experian, and TransUnion, to make free credit reports available to all consumers once a year.
Although the free credit report provisions became effective in December, the credit reporting agencies had nine months to implement the service, rolling it out from west to east, so that people on the west coast were able to start obtaining their free credit reports first, then those in the midwest. Now, as of September first, the east coast is online too, and with this final third, everybody in the United States is now able to obtain a free credit report.
According to a press statement issued by the Federal Trade Commission after the FACT Act passed, “The reports allow consumers to discover and correct errors in their credit records and to assure that accounts have not been fraudulently opened in their names.” The statement goes on to explain that also under the act, “Consumers who reasonably suspect they have been or may be victimized by identity theft, or who are military personnel on active duty away from home, can place an alert on their credit files. The alert will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.”
If you would like to take advantage of this new free service, you can order your free credit report here.
Also, Dan over at Technobabble warns: Beware of those free credit reports that aren’t free.