FTC Sues Imposter Web Sites Offering "Free Credit Reports"

The FTC this week announced a lawsuit and simultaneous settlement with Consumerinfo.com, a subsidiary of the credit bureau Experian, and freecreditreport.com, companies that advertise free credit reports. The FTC charged the companies with "deceptive and misleading" claims.

Consumerinfo.com and freecreditreport.com advertised "free credit reports," but failed to inform consumers that they were automatically signing up for credit report monitoring services and would be charged $79.95 if they did not cancel within 30 days.

Federal Trade Commission Releases Web Site and Phone Number for Free Credit Reports

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released information about the phone number, web site and mail-in form that consumers can use to order their free annual credit reports. Free annual credit reports will be rolled out starting on the West Coast beginning December 1, 2004, and ending in September 2005 on the East Coast.

Consumers in West Coast States Can Get Free Credit Reports Starting December 1, 2004

Beginning December 1, 2004, consumers living in the western U.S. will have the right to order a free copy of their credit report thanks to a new federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, adopted by Congress in 2003. Consumers elsewhere in the nation will get the same right over the next year as the law is phased in across the country. By requiring credit reporting bureaus to provide free credit reports annually upon request, the new law enables consumers to more readily monitor if they are victims of identity theft or if their credit reports contain errors.

Privacy Resolutions: Make 2007 Prosperous and Private!

We at the PRC wish you a happy, prosperous and private new year. For 2007, resolve to do what you can to guard against identity theft and stop unwanted intrusions via your mailbox, telephone, or fax machine. When it comes to privacy, there are no guarantees. But the following resolutions are a good way to start off the new year.

Consumers Can Get Free “Specialty” Consumer Reports Starting December 1, 2004

SAN DIEGO, CA – The arrival of free credit reports on December 1st is getting a lot of attention these days. (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm) But there is another kind of report, called “specialty consumer reports,” that individuals can obtain at no charge beginning on the first of the month. The federal law that requires credit reporting bureaus to provide free reports is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, also known as FACTA. The law also gives consumers the right to one free report prepared by a “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency” that compiles files on consumers.

Federal Reserve Board "Credit Header" Comments

Recent amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, signed into law on September 30, 1996, directed the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board to conduct a study on the availability of sensitive identification information about consumers and the possible use of such information for financial fraud.

The comments provided herein by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse focus on "credit header" information as well as the widespread availability of Social Security numbers.

Confusing E-Mail about Opt-Out Number Sends the Wrong Message

An unknown individual has broadcast an electronic mail message that has reached tens of thousands of consumers, confusing them with information that is only half correct.

The message explains, erroneously, that as of July 1, 2003, "the four major credit bureaus in the US will be allowed . to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers..... to anyone who requests it." This is not correct.

Free Credit Reports to End

The only credit reporting bureau to offer free credit reports to consumers will halt this practice March 1, 1997.

Experian, formerly known as TRW, has been providing free credit reports since 1992. It had expected the other two major credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union, to follow suit, but that has not happened. Further, consumer advocates had pushed Congress to mandate free credit reports when it was considering amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act in 1996. But instead, legislators capped the price at $8 per report.

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