The “FACT” Act
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act will help reduce identity theft according to Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. For example, one provision requires the 3 major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian,TransUnion) to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report. The requirement took effect December 2004, with the phase in over 9 months from West to East. By September 2005, all parts of the country will be covered.
Another provision to help prevent identity theft is the National Fraud Alert System. Consumers who reasonably suspect they have been or may be victimized by identity theft, or who are military personnel on active duty away from home, can place an alert on their credit files. The alert will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.
Other measures will help consumers recover their credit reputation after they have been victimized:
- Credit reporting agencies must stop reporting allegedly fraudulent account information when a consumer establishes that he or she has been a victim of identity theft.
- Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or transactions related to them. This information can assist victims in proving that they are, in fact, victims.
- Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by identity theft directly to creditors – in addition to credit reporting agencies – to prevent the spread of erroneous information.
To obtain a free credit report go to www.annualcreditreport.com. This website is sponsored by all three of the major credit reporting agencies.