Monday, March 14, 2005

Get your free credit report. . .and prepare to get freaked out

Thanks to consumer advocates and good-guy legislators, we can each get a free credit report from the big three credit bureaus.

Go to to do it for free (don't go to the other sites which may try to rip you off) and you can view it online immediately.

They have data from 10 years ago. Everywhere you have ever lived -- and a few places you haven't. Freaky.

These credit bureaus are essentially unregulated, and the credit scores that they assign to us really affect our lives in a big way. I'm glad my buddy John Gaudette of Illinois PIRG is working with progressive state legislators on strengthening consumer protection laws. (For example: next time you buy something with a credit card in Illinois, check out the receipt and note that all the numbers of your account, except for the last four, are x'd out, so it looks like xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-6473. That's because of a state law that Illinois PIRG drafted and worked on. Pretty cool, huh?)

Anyway, exercise your right to check your credit report at right now.

UPDATE: With a little first-hand research, I discovered that Representative John Fritchey worked this bill last session, slogging through endless objections from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. So thanks to Fritchey.


Anonymous said...

DJW--nice to see you Friday. Thought I'd pop in and see what the buzz is about.

And to provide a comment. To say that credit reporting agencies are basically unregulated depends on what you think the term "basic" means. Of course they might be more regulated as evidenced by the fact that people still engage in this business. . . .

But rather than pushing for a new law, your readers might be interested in knowing what rights they already have. The FTC is kind enough to provide the Fair Credit Reporting Act here.


MDS said...

Thanks for the reminder, Dan. Unfortunately, I could only view my Experian report. The other two told me I had to apply by mail. Not quite as convenient. In the past I have had loads of inaccurate information on my credit report. Most people have at least some inaccurate information on their credit reports. The credit industry in this country is a disgrace. Millions of people are harmed because of their sloppy practices. When I finally got someone on the phone to point out all the inaccurate information on my credit report, I was told nonchalantly, "Oh, that's because you have a common name." So no one with a common name can ever buy a house? Something needs to be done.