Better Business Bureau talks about free credit reports - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Better Business Bureau talks about free credit reports

(Source: BBB) (Source: BBB)

Your credit report is very important when it comes to your financial security. Tuesday on Bounce, the Better Business Bureau came to WMC Action News 5 to explain why you should never pay a dime for your credit report. 

The Better Business Bureau covers topics that can keep your bank account full every Tuesday on WMC Action News 5 on Bounce.

The following is a list of topics covered in Tuesday's interview. Mobile users can click here to watch the interview.

Checking Your Credit Report

Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report each year from each of the credit reporting agencies. Below will help you understand what's in your credit report, how to access it, and what to do if you find errors.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

Federal law originally passed in 1970 regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. Along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it forms the base of consumer credit rights in the United States. It's enforced by the US Federal Trade Commission and was amended in 2003 to enable consumers to receive one free credit report per year.

What information does your credit report contain?

Information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you've been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. It's basically a report card of what debts you have had and how you pay them back.

Who keeps this information?

The three nationwide credit reporting companies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

Why would you check your credit report?

Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your credit report to: Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job. It also helps guard against identity theft. That's when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your social security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.

How do you check your credit report?

The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.

- Visit

- Call 1-877-322-8228

- Request the Annual Credit Report Request Form via Internet or phone 

- You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.

- The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

There are imposter websites out there you should be wary of, correct?

Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.

In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For instance, a trial period. If you don't cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names. 

Others have URLs that purposely misspell in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It's probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at

What should you do if you find mistakes?

Dispute any errors you find, in writing. Remember, only incorrect information can be removed. 

Are there any other instances in which I might be eligible for a free copy of my credit report?

Yes, if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company. You're also entitled to one free report a year if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you're on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. Otherwise, a credit reporting company may charge you a reasonable amount for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

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