If you're looking for credit, insurance, employment or trying to rent a home, chances are your credit report will be evaluated, but millions of people have never looked at their credit reports because viewing came with a fee, but not for much longer.
A law is changing in favor of "John Q. Public." Soon we'll all be able to get a free copy of our credit report every year, no strings attached, thanks to an amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
"It's a fundamental fairness issue. Why should you be forced to pay to get information about yourself that will be used against you?" says Rockford attorney Brian Hart.
Unfortunately, millions of us have never looked at our credit reports because it costs around $20 to $30 to get a copy.
"It has such an impact on so many areas of your life, and this is information that will be used to judge you for right or wrong, and the only way you can be prepared is to know what's in it," says Hart.
The free credit reports come as a result of an FTC ruling.
"They've put some restrictions. You can only do it once a year and you can decide if you want them from all three companies at the same time or one every three to four months," says Hart.
The new law is being rolled out region by region. The law will go into effect on March 1 for the Midwestern states. Not only will the law help combat the growing identity theft crisis, it will also help us detect "inaccurate statements about things you've already paid off, more debts that show up that can lower your credit score, inaccurate reporting," Hart says.
Hart says having easier access to our credit reports in the current financial climate is not only beneficial, it's essential.
Starting March 1, you can order your free credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, or you can call 877-322-8228.