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Understanding Credit Reports


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Requesting Credit Reports  

A consumer can request his/her credit report any time. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act entitles consumers to one free credit report each year from each of the three main credit bureaus.  Consumers can access their credit reports in three different ways: 

Requesting Annual Credit Report

•   By visiting the website:

•   By calling toll free at:

•   By sending a written request to:
    Annual Credit Report Request Service
    PO Box 105281,
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281 

BEWARE... The website above is the ONLY website supported by the Federal Government for free annual credit reports. There are other sites that use “free report” in their names or advertisements. They might also misspell as their web address in the hopes that consumers will arive at their site instead by accident. Theirs is a pay service, and not supported by the Federal Government. 

It is recommended that consumers check each of their three credit reports once a year to ensure the information is accurate. They do not have to be requested all at once. A consumer can stagger their requests from each credit reporting agency every 4 months to constantly monitor the information. 

Mistakes in Credit Reports 

In July 2000, Consumer Reports cited a study stating the two main errors appearing in credit reports were fraud and mistaken identity.  Mistaken identity occurs when a lender reports a credit transaction and information is recorded on the wrong person’s credit report, usually of a similar name.  In 1971, the Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted to protect the consumer. It states that consumers have the right to know what information is in their credit report, and to correct any errors. This legislation was designed to promote accuracy and ensure privacy of consumer information in credit reports. To correct an error on a credit report, follow these steps: 

•   Contact the particular credit agency that has incorrect information.
•   The agency has 30 days to investigate the information.
•    Information must be removed from a file if the CRA cannot verify it, or correct the errors.
•   If the consumer disagrees with the result of the investigation, they have the right to submit a 100-word explanation, giving their version of the dispute.


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American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides non-profit credit counseling and debt reduction services for consumers with credit problems who want to know how to pay off credit cards and how to get out of debt. Our certified credit counselors have helped thousands of individuals and families nationwide pay off credit card balances and unsecured debt through credit card relief programs and credit card debt solutions. Our debt management plans provide a kind of personal debt consolidation strategy for help getting out of credit card debt, and we offer a wide variety of financial education services to consumers who need help getting out of debt and managing their finances more effectively.

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