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U.S. Govt. Stipulates Free Annual Credit Reports 404

Posted by samzenpus
from the should-have-paid-your-student-loan dept.
alue writes "Under the terms of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, passed last year, and amid growing concerns over privacy and disclosure of sensitive financial data, the three leading credit reporting agencies must provide consumers with a free summary once a year of all credit information on file for that person. Consumers in 13 Western states will be able to grab free online copies of their credit reports starting Wednesday."
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U.S. Govt. Stipulates Free Annual Credit Reports

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  • Now my question is.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thegoogler (792786)
    How long will it stay free?

    i mean it didnt take long for those free online credit reports to become "free" as in a "free ipod"

    • by ViolentGreen (704134) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:14AM (#10973237)
      That's the whole point. You can pay for a credit report now. Why would they make it free and then decide to charge again? It doesn't make any sense.
      • by Cat_Byte (621676) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:37AM (#10973372) Journal
        Everyone is entitled to see their credit report once a year for free. It has been that way as long as I can remember. The hard part was figuring out how to get it. If you ever applied for credit and were denied you were supposed to get a form to allow you to get a copy of the credit report for free to see why you were denied. This was only once a year. I actually had a website at one point that covered tons of details but it became outdated so I took it down. Don't apply for credit just to get the free credit report. You take a hit for an inquiry. Another piece of advice is that if you ever do apply for credit, do it all at once because there is a cap on how many hits you can take now. Now it is possible to shop around for the best rates when buying a car/home without taking a 100 pt hit on your credit just for all of the inquiries.
        • by cdrudge (68377) * on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:56AM (#10973483) Homepage
          You have some bad advice in your post.

          Only living in certian states entitled you receive a free report anually or semi-anually. If you lived outside one of those states, you either had to pay for it, go to a "free" credit reporting site that would give you one free in order to hook you on their credit monitoring service, or request a free report under one of the following conditions:
          - Been denied credit
          - Had a collection agency state that their credit rating may be affected by a collection,
          - Unemployeed and intend to be employeed within 60 days of making the request (1 time/year)
          - recipient of public welfare assistance (1 time/year)
          - Beleive the file contains inaccurate information (1 time/year) but if there is inaccurate information, you can request a 2nd one to confirm it has been removed

          The maximum the big 3 can charge for a credit report directly is $8. This likely will get you a fairly raw report but is still fairly easy to understand. Services that charge more are just profiting from you in exchange for making them a little easier to read.

          You are right that it's bad to apply for credit in order to get the free report as it does count against you. However, you are incorrect that you should apply for credit all at once as there is a cap on the number of hits.

          Applying for mortgages and car loans only count as 1 hit within a 30- or 60-day time frame, so it's good advice to apply at several different places to compare rates and terms. However, each seperate other applicaiton of credit, say for credit cards or store financing offers, count as sperate hits. Doing too many will add up and I don't beleive there is a limit on the number of those hits.
    • What is this going to do to the Free Credit Report Industry. You know you click the link for a free credit report and find out you only have to pay them $xx per year for their special service and you get the free credit report. More unemployment to worry about.
      • by will_die (586523)
        They will continue what they currently do, since the yearly credit report is just a small part.
        What theses services mostly do is continually monitor your credit status and inform you as things change, this is thier special service.
        I would guess that they continue the same routine since most people will not know that you can now get your credit report for free, same as is currently done with the states that already require this.
        If it becomes widly know then expect that they will change to advertising it a
        • These services are valuable, make no mistake. They monitor your credit monthly, which for some people can be important. You can get one report free per year, any more and you have to pay. So paying someone who will inform you of changes isn't a bad deal if you need your credit report more than once a year. True most people don't need a report more than once a year, but those people generally didn't sign up for these services before. (well they might have got their one free introductory report, but the

    • by rhadamanthus (200665) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:41AM (#10973398)
      What do you think the US government's credit report would look like?
    • For comparison purposes, credit reports are free in Canada from both major credit unions -- Transunion and Equifax. You can pay a fee to get instant-access online, but for free you can have a copy mailed to your house (~ 2 weeks) through a mailed, faxed, or 1-800 request.

      Given that its ~your~ data, you should always have free unfettered access.

      I think its reasonable though for a charge for instant access over the web. Postal service is the lowest-common denominator for universal access, which should
    • by CokeBear (16811) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:57AM (#10973500) Journal
      I think you've hit on a new definition of free. We all know "Free as in Free Speech" and "Free as in Free Beer", I propose a new category: "Free as in Free iPod" defined as something that is advertised as free, but actually involves a pyramid scheme or some other scam that makes it non-free.
  • by C10H14N2 (640033)
    Why does it not surprise me that it will take another fscking year for the !$!@#% District of Columbia to come online with this... Isn't that where the damned law was passed in the first place?

    Geezuz...
    • by dnaboy (569188)
      As another DC resident, I'm not surprised at all. Remember your license plate, 'Taxation without representation'. Sometimes I'm shocked that anything other than Connecticut, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, M, Independence and Constitution avenues are even paved. Senators and reps really only NEED a route out of town (or at least to extreme NW). Everything else spent on DC, in congress's eyes, is just throwing money away.
    • Re:DC? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fracai (796392)
      I too was disappointed to find that New England was last on the list. But I can understand that they're doing this in a slow, fractured rollout. It allows them to build slowly in a number of areas including bandwidth, real help, and accrued data. It's slower than we'd all like for sure.
  • Is there something hidden away in the US Constitution that says that all Bills laid before Congress must have names that are really crap acronyms?

    Is there someone on the hill whose job it is to make them up?
    • Re:Question: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Carthag (643047) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:05AM (#10973191) Homepage
      I think that is just a symptom of the dumbing down of culture today. Even laws need cute names now. It makes me sad.
    • Re:Question: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brandonY (575282)
      Better question: Is there something hidden away in the US Constitution that says Congress has the right to make this demand of credit reporting companies? Oh, wait, it's because they potentially do business between the states. Sigh.
      • Re:Question: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        Probably because the US Government does a huge amount of business with these companies. Or did you think that they handed out grants and loans to random people without even a basic financial background check?

        I'd be willing to bet that the law could be worded such that any credit scoring company willing to partake of the government's big bucks would have to obey, or lose out to another company that will obey.

        Now, if you wanted to be prissy about it, libel laws could have been amended to require that the c
      • Re:Question: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by beacher (82033)
        Become a victim of credit fraud *once* and you will see why this law is a good thing. I'm still fighting to get my record cleared from ~1999. I'm lucky because Georgia allows me 2 free credit reports, but you may not be in a state that has this kind of ability.

        Credit card phishing, widescale identity theft, and the number of databases with personal information are increasing in numbers. 1 annual credit report is long overdue.
    • by Epistax (544591)
      I can't answer that. Why? The bill that doesn't let me answer that doesn't let me tell you. No you can't see the bill, that's against the bill.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:05AM (#10973192) Homepage Journal
    Sure it's an interesting exercise to see one's own credit report but then what? When there are mistakes on it can you get them fixed?
    • by Heem (448667) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:11AM (#10973223) Homepage Journal
      Yes. I recently just got mine (paid for it) In addition to my mortgage being on there, which shows I've never been late in paying and such, there was a delinquint account. I was like WTF? Since over the last few years I've tried to be REALLY good about bills and credit and such. Turns out, I owed $1.81 (yes, one dollar and eighty one cents) to my former gas company, which is very likely to be that when I paid my final bill to them before I moved 2 years ago that I simply wrote the check out for the wrong amount - yea, it's my fault, but someone could have simply called me, sent me a bill, ANYTHING. but no, instead they send it to collections, who also never bothered to contact me and freaking tell me this. It took me only about a 10 minute phone call to straighten it out - but if I hadnt gotten a copy of my report, I never would have even known.

      Now to answer your actual question about a real mistake, that is, something that you did not actually do, you simply have to make a written request to the credit agency with notes on why it's not your credit and such. each of the big 3 have instuctions on their website for how to dispute things on there.
      • It's not too hard.

        two of the big three have an online option to dispute. You send them the corrections and they look into it and respond back.

        I had on one of them something from some agency that I had no idea what it was ($160), they also had an alias/address of some random guy in California (where I never lived). So I clicked the is not me radio button and wrote in explanation "This company never called me, I don't know who they are and received no contact from them in any form".

        I got a reply in 2 wee
      • is that when you request a resolution to disputed facts, they have to take it off of the report. this is for a limited time while the investigation goes on. after that, if the entity that put the record in on the first place is not happy/convinced/paid off/etc, they can put it back on.
        this is how 'credit repair' scams work. you can get your credit 'cleaned up' for a certain amount of time if you time everything correctly. also, a certain number of people will not fight small amounts. i would have
    • by The-Bus (138060) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:23AM (#10973291)
      Contact the bureaus at the addresses in my other post [slashdot.org]. However, it is usually much quicker to contact the company reporting the incorrect information. Often times they just haven't updated anything and a call will quickly fix it. This is especially true for smaller local banks and consumer credit card companies. If they won't update that information, contact the bureaus, who will then contact the company and tell them, "Hey, fix this."
  • Without the word bomb? OK Joking, but wow, this is actually a bloody good idea!

    At least if all the relevant details are sent to everyone... I hope this doesn't get back handed to someones cousin to implement, and the data gets out... again...

    This is one thing where I hope europe follows suite... and that credit companies are tightly regulated to help the little man... and woman...

    In Korea, Only Old People Get Free Annual Credit Reports. Nope, doesn't work.

    • and the data gets out... again...

      For security purposes, www.AnnualCreditReport.com can be accessed by typing the web address "www.annualcreditreport.com", or from links from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), Equifax (www.equifax.com), Experian (www.experian.com) and TransUnion (www.transunion.com) websites.

      Wow, they can tell when they're linked-to from /. Now that's some super-duper security! You have nothing to fear.

      At least if all the relevant details are sent to everyone.

      The credit
    • This is one thing where I hope europe follows suite...

      I don't think there is any EU-wide law on this. In the UK however, you can get your credit reports for a statutory £2 fee and have been able to for some years.

      How much did it used to cost in the US?

  • While I might take advantage of it if I knew there were problems, knowing I would have to wait a year to see it again (even if I later had real problems) would make me think twice before requesting it just to look it over.
    • by LNO (180595) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:11AM (#10973225)
      FTFA:

      Should I order all my credit file disclosures at one time or space them out over 12 months?
      You are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies through the Central Source. It is entirely your choice whether you order all three credit file disclosures at the same time or order one now and others later. The advantage of ordering all three at the same time is that you can compare them. (However, you will not be eligible for another free credit file disclosure from the Central Source for 12 months.) On the other hand, the advantage of ordering one now and others later (for example, one credit file disclosure every four months) is that you can keep track of any changes or new information that may appear on your credit file disclosure. Remember, you are entitled to receive one free credit file disclosure through the Central Source every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - so if you order from only one company today you can still order from the other two companies at a later date.
    • by Transplant (535283) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:34AM (#10973354)
      In short, yes it is enough.

      I recently went through some hassles trying to clear a delinquent account off my credit report. The thing is, this delinquent account was only reported by two of the three agencies. In fact, each of the agencies listed a different current address for me (former military, so I moved a fair amount), as well as slightly different account information.

      If you find a discrepancy on your credit report, the first thing you need to get is evidence - preferably in the form of a letter or statement from the company making the negative report. Put that together with a letter giving an explanation of the situation. It's not a bad idea to put your last two addresses in addition to your current address, in notes at the bottom of the letter. Send copies of this to all three agencies (details can be found at their individual websites).

      After a week or two processing time, the credit agencies will send you a written reply telling you the results of your challenge. Included with this will be an *updated copy* of your credit report detailing the changes that have been made.

      One other thing to keep in mind when working with your credit: feel free to challenge something even if you know it's a legitimate negative item. If you tell the credit companies "No, I didn't bounce that check three years ago.", they have to attempt to contact the bank that claims you did. If that bank does not respond within a set time period (I believe it's 30 days, but I would have to double check), the negative item is wiped off your record.

      Finally... bad credit items stay on your report for *SEVEN YEARS*. All you college students keep this in mind. Additionally, a good number of companies are doing credit checks as part of their interview process nowadays. It's also required if you're going to get a security clearance from the US Government.

      Transplant

      Disclaimer: I am not a credit counselor, nor do I work for any financial institutions. So, double check what I've just said before you take it as fact.
  • The FAQ at the site fails to address my own burning questions:
    1. Why the regional roll-out? Californians can get their report now but folks in New York have to wait until September of next year.
    2. Why be paranoid about the HTTP referrer? There's nothing more insecure about having one than by not.
    • Re:Missing FAQ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:19AM (#10973270) Homepage Journal
      The regional roll-out is probably due to capacity, getting the records into an online database was possibly done in waves, state by state, and that's just the order they picked to enter them into the system in.

      As for the referrer, look at how many scams are already going for people charging you absurd amounts to get a copy of your credit report. They are probably trying to prevent scammers from charging people for an online copy of their credit report when all they do after they charge your credit card $9.55 is to forward you to this site.
    • Regarding question #2:

      One possibility is that someone could set up a convincing front-end that would collect (and save) your personal information then forward you to the business-end of this website like nothing happened. Or charge you for somebody else's free service.

  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EinarH (583836) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:11AM (#10973227) Journal
    I for one welcome the mail from the phishers about the new http://www.annual-credit-report.com/ [annual-credit-report.com].
    • To be fair it looks like they (Experian) actually forestalled that and registrered a bunch of domains. But some of the more exotic variants (.info) are still available so maybe they should grab them too. But strictly the phishers don't need a similar looking domain.

      My main point still stands though; the scammers will (as usuall) seek to exploit this.

  • Wonderful! (Score:5, Informative)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:11AM (#10973228)
    This is really good. The number of people with mistakes on credit reports is pretty high. Especially if anyone is to do anything major (buy a car, get a mortgage), you need to check your credit beforehand! IIRC, if you have been turned down for credit before, you can request a copy of the report in writing within (I think) a 60-day time period.

    Here's their general contact info:

    Equifax (800) 685-1111
    P.O. Box 740243, Atlanta, GA 30374

    Experian (888) 397-3742
    P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013-3742

    Trans Union (800) 916-8800
    P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

    Also, if you want to opt-out those pre-approved credit solicitations, you can call (888) 567 8688 or contact the above parties by mail (make sure you reference your name, address, and SSN).

    Equifax Inc.
    Options
    P.O. Box 740123
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

    Experian
    Consumer Opt-Out
    901 West Bond
    Lincoln, NE 68521

    Trans Union LLC
    Name Removal Option
    P.O. Box 97328
    Jackson, MS 39288-7328

    That being said, you should have been checking your credit once a year or so to make sure there's no mistakes. If you're buying a house in the next year, check now for any mistakes. They can take a looong time to fix.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:13AM (#10973234) Homepage Journal
    The FACT act says that people in western states can get this now but some states, specifically Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont, have required credit bureaus to do this for a while.
  • Privacy, huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cooper_007 (688308)
    So they supposedly show you all that they have on file about you. How do you know it's absolutely *ALL* of it?

    And how exactly does your privacy benefit from having yet another place available on the web with your data on it?
    Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but the less boxen with my data on it, the better.

    Cooper
    --
    I don't need a pass to pass this pass!
    - Groo The Wanderer -

    • As to your first question, don't be so paranoid. We could ask meaningless questions like that about anything. If you don't believe they're revealing something to you, take them to court to prove it, otherwise be a good slashdotter and appreciate that the US Govt just forced them to give you something for free.

      As to your second question, your credit data already exists at these places on the web. The big difference is that you don't have to pay for it now.
  • by ChaosMt (84630)
    I HIGHLY doubt this is a win for the abused... er, I mean, consumer. I properly filed for a free copy of my credit report from experian (NOT those rape you FreeCreditReport.moreSpam places) and started recieving specific junk mail and telemarketing which I was free of before.

    So, what does "free" mean? Free from cost? Free from marketing? Free from being spied on?

    The link in the story just looks like another phishing scam to me. Nothing about the site says, "No really, we're the official one that's no
    • by Trillan (597339) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:25AM (#10973297) Homepage Journal

      The registar is shielded by Domains-by-proxy. There's no reason to do that for a REAL credit check site. Also, there's no SSL certificate.

      • So yes it is a real site. And a signed SSL certificate is only useful to let the end user know they're who they say they are. It has nothing to do with the security of the site.

        This is why Slashdot can't link directly to them but certain companies like Transunion can. If you type in the name of the domain yourself then link scams don't work so a signed SSL isn't an issue.

        Also, once I hit the sign up area it went to a secure connection without any warnings. I don't bother with a sign cert for my web-ma
    • The fact that all 3 credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) all have links to this site makes it sound very non-phishing to me.

      As a Massachusetts resident, we have been able to get a free annual report for quite some time, which I have been doing for hte past 4-5 years. I have seen no increase in junk mail or telemarketing from it (although we have also had a do not call list before the national one, so that also would block calls).

      While it would be nice if you received them automat
      • That's a good point about the credit union links, however my point is different. There should be some sort of obvious graphic or text that says, "Look folks, we're official. We're with the credit unions. We're not going to steal you're ID."
      • Where are the links? I've searched three of the sites so far without finding one.

        Of course, you can click Back to return and the page will suddenly work, but that's not a link.

    • By the way, I should add that every month the consumer should be able to request a new report be sent free of charge, with out any stupid conditions. The consumer should be able to get ALL information that a company has on them (any company, not just credit agencies) at any time, online. The only provision should be to ensure strong authentication.
    • This is interesting.

      From the FAQ
      What is a credit score?
      A credit score is a complex mathematical model that evaluates many types of information in a credit file. A credit score is used by a lender to help determine whether a person qualifies for a particular credit card, loan, or service. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending a person money or providing them with a service -- specifically, the likelihood that the person will make payments on time in the next two to three years. G
    • What marketing information are you going to provide the credit bureaus when you make your request that they do not already have?

      Finkployd
      • Your IP address and email address. Those are very valuable things to have. Gmail exists to correlate your IP, email and intrests together to sell to marketdroids. Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but I do not believe that anything in business really happens for the pure motive of serving the public good. I'm suspicious because I don't see the obvious like to follow the money on this one.
        • I do not believe that anything in business really happens for the pure motive of serving the public good.

          Generally no, but sometimes things come out of government with that purpose (even today, although those things can easily be corrupted anyway).
          I imagine they also have to make the reports available for those without computers or internet connections right? So if you feel like doing this over the phone or mail, you can avoid giving up that data.

          Finkployd
  • From working in a bank, I've heard that your score goes down a small amount every time you request a credit report, to discourage people from applying for loans to dozens of banks, or the same bank over and over. I couldn't find anything about this on the website, but it might not be a good idea to request a report numerous times.
    • This is a bug of the old scoring system that was fixed now that people go on the internets and shop around for quotes for things like car insurance that each involve a credit check.
    • Also, remember that the methods the credit reporting agencies use to calculate credit scores is proprietary and not disclosed. So that's why people "have heard" about what factors are used in credit scores, but nobody really knows.
    • From working in a bank, I've heard that your score goes down a small amount every time you request a credit report, to discourage people from applying for loans to dozens of banks, or the same bank over and over.

      I don't think this is quite true. I think that your credit rating is only affected by potential creditors looking at your credit report at your request. The reason it goes down is because most potential creditors will be concerned if you are looking to take on substantial debt in addition to th

    • Not quite true. You are right that when creditors run a credit check that it goes on your report and multiple checks are generally held against you. However, requesting a copy yourself does not go on the report and therefor cannot hurt you. They are two different classifications of "credit check".

      Finkployd
    • You can view your own credit report as much as you want. This doesn't show up as a request, nor does it lower your score. What lower's you score is if credit card companies request your credit report. So if you apply for 5 cc in 6 months, each one will lower your score.

      This is why people get upset when companies check your credit report without permission. Sometimes your own CC company does this so they can raise your limit. Any rate it's a hit against it.

      But don't worry about checking your own credi
  • However.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by yoey (247125)
    Your credit report is one thing. What about your FICO score?
    • They're not required to release your credit scores for free. In fact, they are allowed to advertise their products - including full reports with your scores - as long as they don't mislead the visitor or make it hard to get the free info.

      NPR ran a story on this a couple of days ago, I think. I was surprised that it didn't hit Slashdot until today.
  • Privacy policy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:26AM (#10973303)
    Anyone ever bother reading their privacy policy [annualcreditreport.com]? I don't feel safe after reading various bits.
  • by wherley (42799) * on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:26AM (#10973304)
    note that the free credit file disclosure is not required to (and probably will not) contain your computed FICO (Fair Isaac & Co.) number relating to your credit rating. this is the number proprietarily computed and available (at a cost to you) from
    Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. the number ranges from around 500 to 850 and could be different from the three sources.
    http://www.myfico.com/myFICO/FAQ/FICOScores.asp?fi re=5 [myfico.com]
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:26AM (#10973306) Homepage
    What exactly will prevent this?

    The site says: "To assure that your credit file is disclosed only to you, the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies will authenticate your identity utilizing the personal identification information you provide on this site, including, but not limited to, your Social Security number, and then require that you answer certain questions."

    But what information on my credit report is known to me that is not known to my immediate family members, my employer, my physician's office, etc.?
    • Most of the requests do require very specific questiosn to be answered, unlikly to be known by anyone (other than immediate family member, who you hopefully can trust) before displaying on-line. In some cases, they will only mail it to your home address. One of them (I forget which) had a 'test' where you had to answer questiosn about specific bills you have received (what was the amount owed on a certain date) or multiple choice questions, with quite a few that were none of the above, etc.

    • But what information on my credit report is known to me that is not known to my immediate family members, my employer, my physician's office, etc.?


      When I requested my credit reports before I got married they asked some questions that even I had problems answering. An example of a few I remember are: You currently have a student loan issued by which of the following banks? Bank A. Bank B. Bank C. None of the Above. Or another was What was the address you lived at when you received credit card XXXX?

      These are good questions and I'm sure they've gove through a lot of work try and figure out how to ensure your credit report only goes to the appropriate person. While there are reasons to be leary of the credit reporting industry this is NOT one of them.
    • by Hangtime (19526) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:13AM (#10973625) Homepage
      Since its pretty obvious you haven't pulled your own credit report through one of the bureaus before let me give you a run-down of the things you must verify.

      Start with your SSN, home address, phone number, etc. After authenticating all of that information you will get probably five questions like the following:

      In October 2001, a request to open a loan was made by Toyota Financial Services, how much is this payment each month for this loan
      A. 200.27 - 224.56
      B. 235.57 - 260.01
      C. 265.33 - 290.17
      D. 315.29 - 327.89
      E. I do not have an account with this institution

      Now when I go through it, I have to pull my bills to answer all the questions . This is one of the things that the bureaus have been good at in terms of enforcing security by putting these questions to the person requesting their credit file.
  • by dianep (537804)
    While it's great that there eventually may be free access to credit reports, I personally believe that knowing my FICO score on a regular basis is more important. One of the credit card companies I have a card with, Providian [providianservices.com], is the only company I know that provides me with my FICO score for free. I hope more companies follow this trend, because a person's FICO score weighs heavily in determining your credit worthiness.
  • This is a twitch in the right direction for the credit system... it makes more accessible what was entirely a monolithic (trilithic?), black-box setup.

    However, the internal workings are still not entirely known. The algorithms for calculating the credit score are guarded like launch codes, and you still have to pay even to see what that code is. Not to mention that the companies are free to use the website as a marketing venue for their other services, as long as they don't impede your ability to get y
  • Free? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by qray (805206)
    So when I request my "free" report. The paper it is written on magically appears as does the printer and ink. Once the magic ink is printed on the magic paper, it's put in a magic envelope and magically transported to me.

    Sorry I'm just a little skeptical when I see the word "free" used in such contexts.

    Has anyone seen who is actually paying for this? Is it the credit agencies or the tax payers? Hafd dorf sokut timbre busket
    • They're already free here.
      Once per year isn't a huge cost.

      This also helps the credit bureau keep accurate records, which is a benefit to them.
      If you have a bad credit rating due to an error, you might choose not to borrow money due to the high cost. This is a lost opportunity for a lender.
      Accurate data is good for business.
  • by gonerill (139660) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:40AM (#10973389) Homepage
    Immediate impressions:

    0) The idea is that you give the annualcreditreport.com's site your details, and then go back and forth between there and the three reporting agencies' websites. This worked pretty well. They have an interesting security feature where the site only works if you type the URL directly or the referrer is one of the 3 credit agencies.

    1) Experian's site was broken --- it reported an error, but I bet the annualcreditreport.com now thinks I've used up my 1 free report with them anyway.

    2) They don't give you your FICO score (the number summarizing your creditworthiness), but offer to sell it to you for 5 or 6 bucks, instead.

    3) The sites do basically the same things, but the contrasts in processing and reporting styles between Equifax and TransUnion (Experian he broken, remember) are interesting:

    * Equifax asked me a trick security question to verify my identity: "You may have a mortgage from January 2001 -- Which of the following is the monthly payment?" The answer for me was 'None of the above' as I don't have a mortgage from then. But it scared the shit out of me when I saw the question! Talk about identity theft!

    * Transunion makes you establish a login name / password / reminder question + email contact, and tries to sneak in a spam newsletter. Equifax doesn't do this.

    * Both sites try hard to get you to buy your FICO score.

    * Transunion's report presents its information better than Equifax's.
    • "You may have a mortgage from January 2001 -- Which of the following is the monthly payment?" The answer for me was 'None of the above'

      Scary thought: if you did have an error (identity theft, mistake, whatever) then you wouldn't be able to answer that question correctly. Then how would you go about proving yourself to them?

      Gives a whole new meaning to "identity theft". I'd always thought of it as someone else copying your identity. But actually, you could lose your identity also. Yikes!

  • Big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by say (191220) <(on.hadiarflow) (ta) (evgis)> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @08:40AM (#10973392) Homepage

    In Norway, you get a (paper) copy of your credit report every time someone hires a company to make one. It's the law over here. It seems reasonable. You've actually had to pay for getting to know your own credit details? It's kind of funny.

  • I went and checked out this site on Tuesday afternoon, and it was already live. It was fairly easy and straightforward. My only complaint was that Experian had an absurdly short session timeout. Once my session timed out, I tried to log back in and got a message saying, "Our records show that you already got your report for this year. Come back next year. In the meantime, would you like to buy a copy of your report for $9?" So if you do go get your report, make sure that the first thing you do is go t
  • I don't want a free credit report. I want accountability from three corrupt, incompetent, and powerful corporations.

    How generous of the three credit reporting firms that we can see, for free, the information that they collect and profit from. The information that is used not only to decide on whether we can buy a home, but what our car insurance will be, whether we'd make a good employee, whether we can get a security clearance. Now we'll have the obligation to correct the errors made by others, at our

  • Mostly unnessecary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kenrod (188428) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:04AM (#10973556)
    You can get a free credit report already if you get turned down for credit. This is just going to swamp the credit bureaus with unnecessary requests and make it harder to get mistakes corrected. It's cheap to get a report anyway. This is just the govt pretending to do something for the little guy.

    If the govt really wanted to do something meaningful, they would stop employers from pulling credit reports for employee candidates. It's truly unfair for anonymous HR wankers to evaluate the worth of a candidate based on credit scores, scores that can be ruined by illness, theft, unemployment, or a former spouse. Many talented, hard-working IT professionals have been unemployed for long stretches.

    All of this personal information floating around contributes to identity theft as well.
  • Credit advice (Score:4, Informative)

    by thebra (707939) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:30AM (#10973775) Homepage Journal
    For great credit advice on how to fix your credit, go to Credit Boards [creditboards.com]. Found this a few weeks ago. Good stuff.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:41AM (#10973918)
    Besides the obvious like credit card accounts and mortgages, credit scores are used in many other places. These include insurance products of all kinds (though some states prohibit this), signing up for utilities, rent applications, some job applications. Even some rental car agencies have experimented with using your scores.

    There is a scary practice called "universal default". One bad glitch in one credit account can be used to restrict credit in many other accounts, even though you didnt abuse those accounts.

    I doomed now that I turned in my library books late last week !!!
  • personal copyrights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @10:02AM (#10974152) Homepage Journal
    That rule is a good start. All of my personal info is covered by copyright, under which it must be used for only the express purpose for which it was copied by me to the original recipient, with no "recopy" rights. We need an explicit law which backs that up, and specifies remedies for damages under violations, like divulging without permission, or use outside its original scope (like unauthorized marketing). Every copy transaction outside the original organization, including authorized credit reports, etc, requires notification of the copyright owner, like radio plays of songs reported to ASCAP. I'd also like to see a registry of personal info licenses, so every copy of the info sent includes the public ID of the license under which the limited copyright, under which it is transferred, operates. Then let Senator Disney swing his copyright net in Congress widely, protecting the people as much as the corporations.
  • by supernova87a (532540) <kepler1@nOspAm.hotmail.com> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:42PM (#10975941)
    this information hasn't been posted here yet:

    in addition to requesting your report over the phone as mandated by law, if you live in one of the required free report states (not the new credit act western states, but CO, GA, MD, MA, NJ, VT), you can view yours instantly online:

    http:/www.experian.com/freestate link [experian.com]

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