FTC Issues Final Rule on Free Annual Credit Reports
 
Home Tell a Friend! Contact ICFE Link Exchange Search ICFE Subscribe ICFE About the ICFE
ICFE News Releases ICFE in the News Children and Money Financial Education Personal Financial Counseling with Paul S. Richard, RFC Credit Card Tips Credit File Correction Mending Spending Links and Resources Order Options

FTC Issues Final Rule on Free Annual Credit Reports

For Release: June 4 , 2004

FTC Issues Final Rule on Free Annual Credit Reports

The Federal Trade Commission has issued its final rule regarding free annual credit reports under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). FACTA, which was enacted on December 4, 2003, amends the FCRA and requires, among other things, that the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) ' Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union ' provide to consumers, upon request, a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months.

The Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on March 19, 2004, and accepted comments until April 16, 2004. The Commission received more than 2,300 comments from consumers, consumer advocates, elected officials, industry members, and trade associations.

The final rule contains many of the provisions of the proposed rule, with some modifications. Under the final rule, the nationwide CRAs must establish a 'centralized source' for accepting consumer requests for free credit reports (called annual file disclosures in the final rule). This centralized source must include a dedicated Internet Web site, a toll-free telephone number, and a postal address.

The final rule also provides for a gradual, structured roll-out of the centralized source. The centralized source will become available in cumulative stages, over a period of nine months, rolling-out from west to east beginning December 1, 2004. The entire transition will be complete by September 1, 2005. Consumers will become eligible on the following schedule: Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) will become eligible on December 1, 2004; Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) will become eligible on March 1, 2005; Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas ) will become eligible on June 1, 2005; and Eastern states (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia), Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories will become eligible on September 1, 2005.

Similar to the proposal, the final rule provides that the centralized source:

Must have adequate capacity to accept requests from the reasonably anticipated volume of consumers making requests;


May collect only as much personally identifiable information as necessary to process requests;


Must provide clear and easily understandable information and instructions on how to make requests; and


May not include any advertising or marketing that interferes with, detracts from, or undermines the purpose of the centralized source.  In addition, like the proposed rule, the final rule provides nationwide CRAs with relief from the capacity requirements of the final rule during times of unusually heavy request volume. In those circumstances, nationwide CRAs are permitted to place consumer requests in a queue for processing, or request that consumers return to the centralized source at a reasonable later time. The final rule also includes requirements that nationwide CRAs develop and implement reasonable procedures to anticipate the volume of consumer requests, including contingency plans.

The final rule also limits the use and disclosure of personally identifiable information collected through the centralized source. It provides that personally identifiable information collected as the result of a consumer request for a required disclosure, such as a free credit report, can only be used to process the consumer's request, to update the nationwide CRAs' consumer reporting databases, to process transactions the consumer requested at the same time as a request for a free annual credit report, and to comply with applicable law.

In addition, the final rule requires nationwide specialty CRAs ' CRAs that maintain specific types of files on consumers, such as employment history, tenant history, medical records, and insurance claims ' to maintain a toll-free telephone number through which consumers may request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months.

The Commission vote to approve the final rule and the publication of the Federal Register notice was 5-0.

Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business Practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jen Schwartzman
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

STAFF CONTACT:

Helen Goff Foster
Division of Financial Practices
202-326-3224

(http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/05/freeannual.htm)



Paul S. Richard
Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education
PO Box 34070
San Diego, CA 92163

619-239-1401

www.financial-education-icfe.org

Email Reply: info@icfe.org
 
 

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the 'certified financial planner' (CFP) designation) and it is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. The ICFE trains and certifies Personal Finance Instructors for its own curriculum. It also trains and certifies Credit Report Reviewers and Identity Theft Prevention Specialists.

The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, now in its 16th printing and has distributed over one million 'Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels' and 'Credit/Debit Card Sleeves' world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.

The ICFE is also a partner in the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and the California Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active with San Diego Saves, an offshoot of America Saves, and the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) (studentdebthelp.org).

The ICFE's on-line help for consumers who spend too much was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from 'The Money Instruction Book,' a course in personal finance, positioned to become among the premier programs in the new bankruptcy and debtor education initiatives.

The ICFE Web site at: www.financial-education-icfe.org helps consumers with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and videos and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include a free eNews, and an online resource center of financial education learning tools, including videos, books, software and personal finance courses.

 
Home ] ICFE News Releases ] ICFE in the News ] Children and Money ] Financial Education ] Resource Center ] Credit Card Tips ][ Credit File Correction ] Mending Spending ] Links and Resources ]  [ Online Store ]

 

Copyright ©  1997 - by Paul S. Richard
and the Institute of Consumer Financial Education, All Rights Reserved.
View our
Privacy Policy Our Terms and Conditions

Institute of Consumer Financial Education
PO Box 34070
San Diego, Ca 92163
Paul S. Richard, Executive Director
Phone 619-239-1401

FAX 619-923-3284

Questions for www.financial-education-icfe.org Click to go to Website Contact Us or 
Website Design Donated by Desgn School Programs