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.

New Look for Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers

tarting August 1, 2005, unsolicited offers for credit or insurance that are based on information in your credit report should be easier to spot.

New regulations adopted by the Federal Trade Commission now require notices to prominently display the toll free number (1-888-5OPTOUT or 1-888-567-8688) to opt-out. Now, this number, along with a statement that you can stop the unsolicited offers, must appear - in at least 12-point type - on the first page of the offer.

Consumer Notice Requirements for Opting Out of Pre-Approved Offers of Credit

For years, consumers have received preapproved credit offers with required notices and opt-out telephone numbers buried in fine print along with other mandatory legal notices. We support the Commission’s proposal to provide a layered notice. The proposal calls for a “short notice” on the principal promotional document. The short notice includes the most important information, including opt-out telephone number, with direction to a “long notice” located elsewhere in the solicitation.

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.

Consumer Group Analysis of House FCRA Legislation, H.R. 2622

This memo provides a section-by-section analysis of H.R. 2622, which was reported out of the House Financial Services Committee on July 25th. Although the bill takes some steps to prevent identity theft, improve accuracy and protect medical privacy, it fails to offer meaningful solutions to the most important problems that were identified in Senate and House hearings, especially given that the quid pro quo for these measures is permanent and perhaps expanded preemption of state laws.

Letter to House of Reps. and Senate to Oppose HR 2622

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Identity Theft Resource Center urge you to oppose H.R. 2622 as written because it preempts many state consumer protection laws while failing to prevent credit bureau mistakes or stop identity theft.

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.

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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