Amended Free Credit Reports Rule Helps Consumers Avoid 'Free' Offers That Cost Money

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Starting tomorrow, a new Federal Trade Commission rule will help consumers avoid confusing ads for “free credit reports” – which often require them to buy credit monitoring or other services – with the federally mandated no-strings-attached credit reports available at AnnualCreditReport.com, or 877-322-8228. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s amended Free Credit Reports Rule, ads for these “free” offers must have clear disclosures. For example, Web sites offering free credit reports must have a disclosure, across the top of each page that mentions free credit reports, with links to AnnualCreditReport.com and FTC.gov. The amended Rule also requires nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to delay advertising for products or services on AnnualCreditReport.com until after consumers get their free credit reports. The amended Rule is effective on April 2, 2010, except for the wording of disclosures for television and radio ads, which takes effect on September 1, 2010.

Information in credit reports may affect whether consumers can get a loan or a job, so it is important for consumers to check their reports and correct any inaccurate information. Each of the nationwide credit reporting companies is required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit reports once every 12 months upon request. Consumers can learn more about their right to a free credit report under federal law at http://www.ftc.gov/freereports.

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