Beginning this month consumers in all fifty states are entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each of the big three credit reporting firms, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Citizens of thirteen western states were privy to free credit reports beginning last December and the privilege has gradually rolled out across the country and is now complete with fourteen eastern states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all U.S. territories going on-line September 1st.
Signed into law on December 4th, 2003, The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, is intended to ensure that lenders make decisions on loans based on full and fair credit histories and not on discriminatory stereotypes, to improve the quality of credit information and protect consumers against identity theft.
To be sure, this is a sweet deal for consumers but the CEO of Equifax doesn't see it exactly the same way.
"..It's unconstitutional to cause a public company who has a fiduciary responsibility to return profit to shareholders to give away the product," Chapman said to reporters following a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco..."He has a point. What if you were in the business of making widgets and Congress comes along and tells you that you must give each American a free widget every year? Oh well, at least your two major competitors have to give everyone a free widget too. So is there anyone left who will actually buy a widget?
Certainly every one of us should check our credit histories on a regular basis to guard against inaccuracies and fraud. But these reports have been easily accessible in the past, usually for less than ten bucks. Anyone serious about protecting their credit wouldn't let a Hamilton stand in their way, would they? Free reports are a good thing for consumers, but is it really right for government to force companies to give away their product?
That said, get your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com.