"You'll be able to see history, balances owed on accounts, credit reports, car insurance, loans, etc and see if the amounts agree with what your records are and what they should be," says Greg Jones, Executive Vice-President of American State Bank. He is talking about your credit report.
Up until now, employers, banks and other institutions looking to lend you money, were the only ones with free access to your credit report. An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act went into effect December 1, 2004. It gives you free access to credit reports that up until now have cost around eight to ten dollars.
|New Laws In Effect To Protect Your Identity|
"It entitles you to a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Consumers are able to get one every 12 months and you can get a credit report from all three agencies at one time or you can stagger it out.," says Cassandra Mojica. She is a Certified Credit Counselor with Consumer Credit Counseling. She thinks the new law will help consumers keep track of their own credit history and combat identity theft. "Make sure there is not any identity theft going on. Make sure each account is authorized and just make sure that is something you applied for."
Inaccurate information should be reported to all three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Jones says, "It's kind of like an annual physical. It's a good thing to check your credit annually and make sure its up to par and make sure the right things are being reported on that credit report."
Here's how it works. Thirteen states are now eligible for free credit reports. The law is being phased from the west to east coast. New Mexico residents are already eligible, but Texans won't have access until June 1, 2005. At that time, you'll be able to log onto a website, ( www.annualcreditreport.com). You will be allowed to request, view and print one or all three of your free reports via a secure internet site. Mojica says, "Before they give you a credit report, they ask a security question such as how much is your mortgage?"
It's that type of security that means you and only you will have access to your credit history, a check that can prevent and catch identity theft. Jones says, "It's just a good thing to have that credit report accurate and up to date."
If you don't have access to the internet, a toll free number will also be available for you to request your report. Or you can mail in your request. ( Click here ) for access to the site.