Campaign encourages consumers to check credit reports
Jan 31, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The University of Wisconsin Extension is kicking off a campaign encouraging consumers to regularly check their credit reports free of charge.
The campaign focuses on three dates each year -- Feb. 2, June 6 and Oct. 10, or in shorthand, 2/2, 6/6 and 10/10 -- as times to review a credit report.
"Much like campaigns to get a medical check-up or a flu shot, our goal is to help people save money and improve their financial health," J. Michael Collins, UW Extension family and consumer economics specialist and director of the UW-Madison Center for Financial Security, said in a news release announcing the effort.
Consumers are responsible for checking the accuracy of credit reports prepared by the private firms Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Those credit reports are sold to other businesses, and can affect a person's ability to get a loan and how much he or she pays for credit and insurance. It also can be a factor in obtaining a job, renting a house or apartment and preventing identity theft.
Nonetheless, only about 16 million free reports are ordered each year out of more than 200 million people in the U.S. with credit records, UW Extension said.
"2/2, 6/6,10/10 is an easy-to-remember set of three dates," said Collins. "Each represents a day to set aside five minutes to pull one credit report from one credit bureau."
A new website at http://fyi.uwex.edu/creditreport introduces consumers to the "Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10" and tells them why it's important to review their credit reports. The site takes users through the process of pulling and reading the reports.
There is only one legitimate source for a free credit report, though there are many imposters, Collins said. AnnualCreditReport.com and its mailing address and phone number are the only truly no-cost ways to obtain the free credit reports everybody is entitled to by law, he said.
Other websites claim to offer free reports, scores or monitoring, but they often incur significant one-time or ongoing fees, UW Extension said. Unsolicited emails, pop-ups or phone calls offering free scores or reports are not official.
"Checking one free credit report every four months lets people do their own credit monitoring without having to pay $10 or even $20 a month, which are typical amounts charged for these services," Collins said.
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