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Credit Reports

Consumers living throughout the U.S. now have the right to order a free copy of their credit report thanks to a federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), adopted by Congress in 2003. Because credit reports are free, consumers have better access to this important document and can take steps to make sure it offers a fair picture of their credit history.

Your credit is one of your most important assets. Having good credit means you should have more options to borrow money at the lowest cost and from the best lenders. It also means that others who look at your credit — such as landlords, insurance companies, or even prospective employers — are less likely to turn you away or penalize you because you have poor credit.

Take the first step to find out where you stand in the credit world. Get a copy of your consumer credit report and credit score.

Your consumer credit report should contain accurate and up-to-date information about your credit history and behavior. Having your consumer credit report and credit score in hand lets you see what your creditors or those who base decisions on your credit will see. If you discover mistakes, you can have them corrected. Reviewing your consumer credit report can also alert you if someone has stolen your identity.

Be sure to get a free copy of your consumer credit report to stay up to date with your credit profile and to protect yourself from identity theft.

The information on this site is provided as a guide and is not meant to be legal advice. Be sure to consult an attorney for legal advice.

Publications

  • Free Credit Score Fact Sheet

    Know Your Score Fact Sheet Consumers Union is fighting to give consumers access to an annual free, reliable credit score when a free credit report is obtained. Your credit score can determine your eligibility for credit cards, home, car and student loans, and apartment rentals. It can mean the difference between a high interest rate Continue Reading

  • How to Get Your Free Credit Report

    Every consumer in the U.S. has the right to a free credit report. The law says you can request a free report once every 12 months from each of the three national credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, there are a lot of web sites out there that offer you a free Continue Reading

  • Credit Scores: Issues In a Changing Environment

    This is a PowerPoint presentation given by Gail Hillebrand for a workshop titled “The Growing Influence of Credit Scores” at the Consumer Assembly 2010.

  • New Rip-offs

    Have you been ripped off by unfair lending or financial practices?

  • Consumer group letter to prevent deceptive marketing of free credit reports

    Comments of the National Consumer Law Center (On behalf of its Low-Income Clients) Consumer Action Consumers Union Consumer Federation of America National Association of Consumer Advocates National Community Reinvestment Coalition Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law U.S. Public Interest Research Group Regarding Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Free Annual File Disclosures, Rule No. R411005 Amendments Continue Reading

  • Consumers Union supports reform to remove paid medical debts from credit

    CU supports the Medical Debt Relief Act of 2009, H.R. 3421

  • Credit Reports and Scoring
  • Credit and Your Consumer Rights
  • California: Credit Repair Services
  • What is Credit Monitoring?

    What is Credit Monitoring? Consumer credit reporting agencies offer to “monitor” your credit for a fee. Credit monitoring services can be costly. These services cost anywhere between $43.80 per year to nearly $150.00 per year depending upon the provider. Typically, these services say they will notify you if anything unusual or suspicious appears on your Continue Reading

Press Releases

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Blog Posts

  • CFPB Is Helping Consumers Check Their Specialty Credit Reports

    Most consumers know that they can check their credit reports with the “big three” credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, once a year, for free, at annualcreditreport.com. But, there are dozens more companies that may collect and report important information about you – and it’s important to check those reports, too. (Note that these specialty agencies aren’t Continue Reading

  • “Big 3” Credit Bureaus Settle With 31 States Over Credit Reporting Mistakes

    The top credit reporting agencies are going to have to pay up for their credit reporting mistakes! On Wednesday, 31 state attorneys general announced a settlement with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion over credit reporting errors. Not only will they have to pay $6 million to the states, they will also have to take important steps to reduce errors. The Continue Reading

  • FICO’s Plan to Extend Credit Access Could Harm Those it Claims to Aid

    We received some concerning news from the credit-scoring company FICO last week. FICO announced the start of a pilot program to introduce a new credit score based on “alternative” data, such as utilities and phone bills. These types of bills typically have been included in consumers’ three major credit reports only when they have been written off or Continue Reading

  • Have You Received Your Free FICO Score?

    Consumers are finally seeing substantial progress in the credit score market. They’ve long faced real challenges in getting the same credit score that their banks and lenders purchased when making lending decisions about them. But over the past year, millions of Americans have gained access to free, reliable credit scores. Recently, President Obama announced that more Continue Reading

  • New Offerings from Credit Karma and Experian Not as Helpful as they Appear

    Many consumers make a New Year’s resolution to check their credit reports and scores. We’re all in favor of that, especially as Consumer Reports recently found that just under half of Americans have never checked one of their credit reports from the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. This year, two companies say they will Continue Reading

  • Thirty-Five Things in 12 Months: CFPB Working for You–2014 in Review

    As this year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the many actions the CFPB has taken to defend your rights as a consumer of financial services and products.  The CFPB has a tough job, as we all know, and they’ve done it well.  They are an indispensable Continue Reading

  • CFPB Says Medical Debt Scars One in Every Five Credit Reports

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has unveiled some surprising new numbers in its latest report on medical debt: one out of every five credit reports is harmed by medical debt that’s considered past due, and medical debt accounts for about half of all debt in collections. Making matters worse, there are no uniform standards for Continue Reading

  • $22 Million Refund for Victims of Credit Score “Gotchas”

    Some much-needed relief is in store for consumers who have fallen for “free” credit score come-ons. On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  announced that it, along with the Ohio and Illinois Attorneys General, would require three companies to give $22 million back to consumers for allegedly misleading them into signing up for credit monitoring services Continue Reading

  • Free FICO scores on the way for Citi cardholders

    Great news for those of you with Citi credit cards: starting in January, Citigroup will begin giving its credit card customers a free FICO score – the very same one Citi uses to set interest rates. This will give consumers free access to an important tool to better manage their credit. Keeping a good credit Continue Reading

  • CFPB Targets Auto Lender for False Credit Reports

    An estimated one out of every five Americans has a mistake on one of their credit reports, which have sadly become an all-too-frequent occurrence for consumers. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working to change that: it’s rebuking an auto lender for reporting faulty information to the credit bureaus for years. On Wednesday, the Continue Reading

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News Articles

  • Montanans locking credit reports
    Source: Helena Independent Record (Tuesday November 6, 2007)

    More and more consumers are taking advantage of security freeze protection

  • Montana bill to deter identity theft advances
    Source: Billings Gazette (Thursday January 26, 2006)

    A bill giving Montanans the right to freeze access to their credit reports to block criminals from stealing their identity will go before the state Senate.

  • ID theft law to take effect in Vermont
    Source: Times Argus (Sunday July 10, 2005)

    Vermonters who become the victims of identity theft can stop the financial bleeding by putting a freeze on their credit reports, under a new state law.