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Free Annual Credit Reports - What Consumers Should KnowCONSUMER ALERT
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS -
Michigan consumers can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies every year. Consumers can order their free annual credit reports by mail, by telephone, or online. To maximize your protection against fraudulent activity, order one report from a different company every fourth month.
ORDER YOUR FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS
These are the only ways to get free credit reports without any strings attached. The "free" credit reports advertised by other sources are not really free!
We recommend that when you order you request that no more than the last four digits of your Social Security Number appear on copies of your credit report.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to place a fraud alert on your file and to receive copies of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies free of charge, regardless whether you have previously ordered your free annual reports. For more information on ID theft, including advice for victims and tips on prevention, review the Attorney General's Consumer Alert on ID Theft at: http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337_20942-230557--,00.html.
This Alert tells consumers:
This Consumer Alert may contain links to websites of non-governmental organizations. The Attorney General's Office lists such sites for the convenience of consumers and does not necessarily endorse specific positions of these organizations.
Reviewing your credit reports can help you detect fraudulent activity early, allowing you to take effective steps to limit the headaches you may encounter if you are a victim of identity theft. Knowing what's in your report before you apply for a loan or a job may also be helpful.
You have a right to order your free annual credit report from each of the three major consumer credit reporting companies (CRC): Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, it is not necessary for you to order all three at the same time.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to place a fraud alert on your file and to receive copies of your credit report from each of the three CRCs free of charge, regardless whether you have previously ordered your free annual reports. For more information on ID theft, including advice for victims and tips on prevention, review the Attorney General's Consumer Alert on ID Theft at: http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337_20942-230557--,00.html.
BEFORE YOU ORDER YOUR FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS
WARNINGS FOR CONSUMERS ORDERING CREDIT REPORTS ONLINE!
Beware of e-mails, banner ads, pop-up and pop-under Internet ads, and telemarketing calls that promise to obtain your "free annual credit report" on your behalf. In particular, e-mail messages or internet ads claiming to be from www.annualcreditreport.com ARE LIKELY TO BE FRAUDS SEEKING TO TRICK CONSUMERS INTO SHARING THEIR PERSONAL INFORMATION AND, MOST LIKELY, BECOMING VICTIMS OF ID THEFT. Forward scam e-mails to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumers thinking about ordering their free annual credit report online should proceed WITH CAUTION and be aware of possible risks.
WHAT'S IN YOUR CREDIT REPORT?
Your credit report contains a collection of sensitive personal and financial information about you gathered from a variety of sources.
You can expect your credit report to contain:
Your report may also contain a statement of dispute you, or one of your creditors, may have submitted regarding a disputed item on your credit report. Information on disputing errors on your report is set forth below.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT?
When you receive your reports, check each section carefully and determine whether you believe the information is correct. Your report could alert you to fraudulent activity being carried on in your name by an ID thief or other inaccurate information that could affect your ability to obtain a loan.
In particular, be sure to review:
WHAT TO DO ABOUT INACCURATE INFORMATION
YOUR RIGHT TO FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS FROM OTHER, "SPECIALTY" CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES
You also have a right to order free annual credit reports from other "nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies." These are companies that maintain specific types of files on consumers, such as employment history, tenant history, medical records, and insurance claims. There are many specialty CRCs, and each must maintain a toll-free telephone number through which consumers may request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months.
Neither the FTC nor the trade association of credit bureaus (CDIA) has chosen to publicize contact information for the specialty CRCs, and the Attorney General's Office does not currently have access to a list of these toll-free numbers. However, the following web page maintains a partial list of specialty CRCs and their contact information: www.pirg.org/consumer/credit/reports.htm#special
OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES AND CREDIT REPORTS
Consumers may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Consumer Protection Division
Other consumer alerts from the Attorney General's Office are available at:
Additional information is available at the FTC's website:
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