Press Releases


For Immediate Release
March 1, 2005  

Free Credit Reports Available in March
Consumers are advised to review credit report before applying for credit or insurance

(Madison) Beginning March 1, 2005, residents of Wisconsin and other Midwestern states will be able to request a free copy of their credit report yearly from each of the three national credit reporting companies. The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) and the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity to check that the information on their credit reports is accurate and complete.

“It is to consumers’ benefit to regularly review their credit reports to make sure that the information about their credit history is correct,” Insurance Commissioner Jorge Gomez said.

DFI Secretary Lorrie Keating Heinemann added, "By checking their credit report, consumers can also help protect themselves against identity theft. If someone else used a consumer’s personal information to open a credit card and didn’t pay the bills for the credit card, their credit is damaged and that is reported to potential lenders and other businesses. By ensuring all the information held by the credit reporting agencies is correct, consumers can avoid being charged more or being denied financial services."

Credit reports play an important role in a consumer’s ability to access credit, a car loan, a mortgage loan or obtain insurance. Information on a credit report can also affect what interest rate the consumer pays for that credit. Insurance companies may also take credit information into account although the extent to which insurance companies can use credit reports in the underwriting process is limited by OCI and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In addition to getting a free report yearly, federal law allows consumers to request a free report if they are denied credit or insurance because of information on the credit report. Consumers must request a copy of their credit information within 60 days of the date their purchase was affected by credit.

The three nationwide consumer reporting companies are Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The free report is available only through a centralized website, phone number, and address that the three consumer reporting companies have set up. Consumers can request their free annual credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228, visiting the website www.annualcreditreport.com, or completing the annual credit report request form available at www.ftc.gov/credit and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Beyond one free credit report each year, consumers can purchase their credit score at any time. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reminding consumers that
www.annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized site to obtain your free annual credit
report, and emails, pop-up ads, or phone calls asking for personal information and
claiming to be from the website or any of the three companies are “probably a scam.”

More information about credit reports or other consumer issues is available by visiting the FTC website at www.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Consumers can obtain information about using credit and handling money by visiting the DFI's website and link to the Financial Literacy Resource Center at www.finlitwi.org/default/. OCI publications such as “Understanding How Insurance Companies Use Credit Information” and “Consumer’s Guide to Insurance,” can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 5370-7873, calling 800-236-8517 or visiting the OCI website at oci.wi.gov/oci_home.htm.