The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, signed into law in December 2003, gives every American the right to a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus.  To do this, the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) joined forces recently to set up a one-stop free credit report centre.  Consumers can now request their report by phone or mail, and get a response within about two weeks.  The credit bureaus also set up a website – at - to allow consumers to request, view and print one, two or all three of their free credit reports quickly via the site.

After 18 months of preparing the way for free credit reports, this service is now being rolled out across the US.  Earlier this year, residents of US’s western and mid-west states could access the service, and in June the southern states were included.  In September, people in the eastern states will get access to their credit reports free.


The new National Credit Bill give consumers the right to access information held by credit bureaus, to be notified when a prescribed adverse information is reported, to demand investigation of disputed information, and correction of erroneous information, and a right to compensation for the cost of correcting negligently incorrect information.


The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act in the US also protects consumers in other ways:

Uniform credit standards: In 1996, Congress set uniform national standards on credit reporting.  These standards set clear rules on what credit agencies could include in consumer credit reports.  The new law made these standards permanent.


Safeguarding receipts: To help ward off identity theft, retailers must hide credit card and debit card information on customer receipts.  Only the last five digits of a card number will be listed. From the beginning of 2005, all new cash registers and point-of-sale terminals had to comply with this.  Merchants have been given until December 2006 to phase out any existing registers or terminals that printed full account numbers on receipts.

New opt-out rules: Consumers will have the right to "opt-out" and block solicitations from affiliates of companies that they do business with.

 Consumers in US get free credit reports
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