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This time each year, consumers may obtain a free copy of their credit report from any of the three credit reporting agencies according to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. Today the Federal Trade Commission reminded consumers to exercise their right to obtain a credit report in part to guard against identity theft.

According to the Federal Trade Commision:

As mandated by Congress in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report, at their request, from each of the three companies once every 12 months. Access to the free reports was phased in across the country last year; every area was eligible as of September 1, 2005. Consumers may order free reports from all three companies at the same time, or stagger their requests over the course of the year.

So if you are concerned that somebody has stolen your identity, exercise your right to obtain a free copy of your credit report. By the way, the Federal Commission cautions you not to click on any pop-up ads or e-mail messages promising free credit reports. Rather,

The only authorized Web site for the program is Some Web sites offer a supposedly “free” service that converts to one that requires a fee after a trial period ends. Some bogus Web sites have “free” in their name; others misspell the name of the official Web site, hoping consumers’ typing errors will lead them to Web sites that try to sell things or collect personal information. To avoid mistyping the name, click on the annual credit report link on the FTC’s website (

Do not become a victim of identity theft while you try to obtain a free credit report! Log onto the FTC approved web site or contact the Federal Trade Commission directly. Asserting your right to obtain a free credit report every twelve months can not only help to alert you to the problems of identity theft, but can also identify errors on your credit record which may negatively impact your ability to buy a house or a car. So each year around this time, I encourage you to take advantage of this free opportunity.

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