Martin Pelmore’s Way To Free Credit Reports
Under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to obtain a copy of your consumer credit report from any consumer credit reporting agency for a reasonable charge. The FCRA also states that you are entitled to receive a disclosure directly from the consumer credit reporting agency free of charge, if:
you certify in writing that you are unemployed and intend to apply for employment within 60 days, or
you are receiving public welfare assistance, or
you have reason to believe your consumer file contains inaccurate information due to fraud, or
you have been denied credit, insurance, or employment within the past 60 days
If you are a resident of Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Vermont, you may receive a free copy of your consumer credit report once each year, and if you are a resident of Georgia, twice each year.
Under the FCRA amendments passed in 2003, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), you have the right to obtain a free copy of your consumer credit report, once a year or more, from each of the national consumer credit reporting agencies, and each agency must establish a toll-free telephone number to receive the requests.
Importantly, you may also obtain a credit score and related information from each agency for a “fair and reasonable” fee. For a given credit score, related information includes the range of possible scores under the model used to produce the score, a list of the key factors (not to exceed four) that adversely affected the score, the date the score was established, and the name of the entity that provided the score.
Under FACTA, in addition to being entitled to a free annual credit report, and a free report if you’ve been denied credit, you now must be told when a creditor has offered credit on terms that are materially less favorable than those offered to most other consumers, and that notification must provide a statement that explains your right to obtain a free credit report from a credit-reporting agency and contact information for obtaining the report.
As you will receive an updated copy in response to your dispute, this is yet another way to obtain your credit report. Dispute a specific erroneous item with each of the three credit bureaus (as detailed later in this report), and after their investigation is complete, you will receive updated credit reports. To be effective, you must have specific knowledge of an erroneous item on your credit report, and it will take two months before you are likely to see the update.
Outside of these circumstances, you may obtain a copy of your credit report for a nominal fee (maximum by federal law is around $9). In some locations, you may even find local credit bureaus (almost always “affiliated” with one of the big national firms), who may sell you that same credit report over the counter, in person. Check your local yellow pages, under “Credit Reports” (no kidding!).