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What Consumers Need To Know About Their Annual Credit Report. 

Article By : Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Consumer Finance
Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act  (FCRA) is the law that promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA concerning credit reporting companies.

Because credit reports and scores have such an impact on many aspects of life, The FCRA mandates that consumers have access to their credit report. The three largest credit bureaus must furnish consumers, at least once a year, a free annual credit report. 

What exactly are credit reports?

Credit reports are comprehensive indexes of consumers' financial information. They indicate addresses people have been associated with in the past, useful in verifying past places of residence. These reports also identify whether consumers have filed bankruptcy, and when. Credit cards with active balances are reported, including who the card issuer is, the current outstanding balance, and their maximum allowable balances. 
Who uses them?

While many consumers believe that credit reports are only of value to lenders, it couldn't be any further from the truth. Insurance companies use them in assessing financial risk. Employers in financial services use them in weighing the likelihood of potential employees committing fraud. Property management companies seek out credit reports in determining whether to offer leases or not. Countless other organizations utilize credit reports in learning more about applicants, customers, employees, and clients.

Who provides credit reports?

Credit bureaus keep up with financial and legal information pertinent to reports. The three most popular bureaus in the United States are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Why do credit bureaus make them available for free?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted into law many years ago to protect United States citizens from unjust, unethical, and illegal collections practices. The FCRA has a statute that requires companies that engage in credit reporting to provide consumers with one free report per calendar year. 

Can I get more than one copy per year?

If an employer, business, or organization takes an "adverse action" against a consumer, that person is eligible for a credit report if requested within 60 days. 

Does receiving my report take a long time?

While mail delivery through the United States Postal Service isn't instantaneous, the FCRA requires bureaus to remit reports within 15 days of inquiry.

Important Update On Credit Reports:

The three Credit Bureaus, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian have agreed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that they no longer will collect and put on credit report records most civil judgments, such as money you owe because of a lawsuit, and unpaid state and federal tax liens.

The above changes will take place on credit reports starting July 1st, 2017. Your credit file will update automatically, and no action is required by the consumer.
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