16 CFR Part 610 Amendments to Rule to Prevent Deceptive Marketing of Credit Reports and to Ensure Access to Free Annual File Disclosures
I offer the following comments, from my own experiences and practices over the past 5 years, regarding the FTC's proposed and existing rule regarding citizen rights to receive free credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus: To protect myself against identity theft and in order to avoid the disruptive collateral consequences of placing a security freeze on my credit reports, I have placed a fraud alert with one of the 3 credit bureaus every approximately 120 days. Within 10-15 days after I do this, I usually (but not always) receive a copy of my credit report from the credit bureau with whom I've placed that security alert, and I usually (but not always) also receive notice from the other 2 credit bureaus acknowledging that fraud alert as to their files. Before October 2008, I had not received my credit report from a credit bureau with whom I had not placed the fraud alert directly. If I receive a credit report from any of these 3 credit bureaus in response to my fraud alert, that credit bureau claims that I've received my free annual credit report and I must wait one full year to receive my next one. This is acceptable to me since it permits me to: (a) place a fraud alert in rotation among the 3 credit bureaus once every 4 months, (b) get a credit report from a credit bureau once every 4 months (and also to receive my free annual credit report from that credit bureau once per year). However, in October 2008, I placed a fraud alert with only one of the 3 credit bureaus per my usual practice. I did not ask for my credit report from the other 2 credit bureaus. All 3 credit bureaus sent me my credit report within 10-15 days thereafter. Each credit bureau then refused to send me a free annual credit report in response to my next attempt to place a fraud alert with one of the credit bureaus (in January 2009) until one year had elapsed from the date of the credit report they had sent me, unrequested, in October 2008. This has now prevented me from monitoring my credit accounts once every 4 months unless I stop placing a fraud alert on my credit report every 90-120 days, which I have a right to do. I suggest the following: SUGGESTION: Apparently, a fraud alert permits a credit bureau to claim that the credit report sent in response to a fraud alert is the free annual credit report that a citizen is entitled to request. I suggest that the FTC define the requirement for a free annual credit report as not including any credit report required to be given after the placement of a fraud alert. I do not want to receive my free annual credit report from a credit bureau in response to a fraud alert unless I specifically request it. SUGGESTION: Do not permit a credit bureau that does not directly receive the fraud alert request to send a credit report to an individual unless the individual specifically requests that credit bureau to do so, and do not permit a credit bureau to then claim that an unrequested credit report constitutes the free annual credit report required by law upon citizen request. SUGGESTION: Alternatively, permit the credit bureaus to send a letter in response to a fraud alert asking the individual whether they want to receive their free annual credit report OR permit a citizen to opt out of receiving their free annual credit report at the time they file a fraud alert so that they can receive their free annual credit report at a time of their own choosing.