CONSUMERS COMPLAIN TO FTC THAT THEY ARE UNABLE TO GET FREE CREDIT REPORTS

Are you unable to get your free credit report from Equifax, Experian or Trans Union?  Consumers often contact us and complain that they are unable to get their free credit report from credit reporting agencies, such as Experian, Equifax or Trans Union.   In fact, the Federal Trade Commission received 472 consumer complaints from November 25, 2009 to October 11, 2011 that included one or more of the following consumer gripes:

(1) ordered free credit report and did not receive it within 15 days;

(2) consumer unable to order free credit report; and

(3) credit reporting agency refuses the request for file disclosure (improper identification).

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) requires credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, to provide you with your free annual file disclosure (commonly referred to as a credit report) once every 12 months within 15 days of receipt of your request.  15 U.S.C. 1681j(a)(2).

How should I request my free annual credit report?  You should always request your credit reports by mail, but where you should send your request depends on the type of request you are making.

Free Annual Disclosures – You should order your free annual disclosures from the centralized source.  In 2004, the FCRA was amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) and allows consumers for the first time to request their free credit report once in a 12 month time period from each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union).  FACTA required Experian, Equifax and Trans Union to create a “centralized source” for consumers to make their request for a free annual disclosure.  The company, Central Source, is a joint venture between Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  FACTA required all three nationwide consumer reporting agencies to have one central address, telephone number and website for consumers to request their free annual disclosure.

Why shouldn’t I request my free annual disclosure online?  Consumers should not request their reports online because they believe they are at the Central Source, but are actually at a website that may require you to enroll for services before you can obtain your free credit report.

Also, when you make a request online at annualcreditreport.com for all three reports, you are redirected from the official website to one of the credit bureaus’ websites.  The credit bureau website may ask you for additional information to verify your identity, but if the bureau has incorrect information in its database you will not be verified!  As a result, consumers are often sent form letters requesting additional identifying information such as a driver’s license and Social Security card.  Consumers get frustrated when they send in the requested information but the credit reporting agency fails to send the report and sends more form letters asking for additional identifying information.  Let me know if this sounds familiar to you!

Instead, click Annual Credit Report Request Form to download, print and request your free annual disclosure from all 3 credit reporting agencies and send the completed form by certified mail!  Also, ask the bureaus to redact your Social Security number from the report!

Also, under federal law, consumers have the right to request their free credit report after a user (i.e., potential creditor, employer or insurance company) takes an adverse action (i.e., declines credit, employment or insurance) within 60 days from the credit reporting agency that supplied the user your credit report.  15 U.S.C. 1681j(b).

How do I request a free credit report after I have been denied credit, employment or insurance?  When you are denied credit, employment or insurance based in whole or in part on information contained in your credit report, the user of the report (potential creditor, employer or insurer) will send you an adverse action letter.  The letter should explain to you why you were denied credit (accounts in collection, too many inquiries, collections or bankruptcy) and which credit reporting agency (i.e., Equifax, Experian or Trans Union) provided the user with your credit report.

The adverse action letter should also provide you with the contact information, including mailing address, for the credit bureau that supplied the user with the credit report.  Mail a certified letter to the credit bureau named in the adverse action letter and request a copy of your credit report.  Don’t waste any time because in order to get your free credit report you must request it within 60 days of receipt of the adverse action letter.  Also, send a copy of the adverse action letter to the bureau and include your personal identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth and Social Security number.  Like requesting your free annual reports, you should ask the credit bureau to redact you Social Security number to protect yourself from identity theft.

If you have mailed certified letters to the credit bureaus, supplied them with identifying information and the credit reporting agencies have failed or refused to send you your report, then you may be entitled to money damages – and your credit report!  After all, if you do not receive your credit report how can you dispute inaccurate information on the report?

Have you received a letter from Equifax, Experian or Trans Union requesting additional information before they will send you your credit report?  Did you send in the requested information and you still have not received your free credit reports?  If you answered yes, then you need to call us for a free case review at 1-800-263-9091.

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