Springboard Advises Report Access to Free Credit Reports Now Available Nationwide

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Requests for free annual credit reports accepted from Eastern United States beginning September 1; consumers across U.S. will now have access.

Consumers nationwide will be able to access their credit reports for free once a year when credit reporting bureaus begins accepting requests from the Eastern United States on September 1, 2005. A Web site, toll-free phone number, and central mailing address were set up by the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. (Access to free reports began in December of 2004 and has been implemented in stages geographically across the U.S.) Consumers can log on to http://www.annualcreditreport.com, answer some identifying questions, and be redirected to the credit bureau site(s) of their choice to download their report. There is no charge for the service as long as consumers request their reports only once a year. There is a nominal charge from each bureau to download a credit score in addition to the credit report.

“Credit reports and credit scores are our financial DNA,” said Dianne Wilkman, president/CEO of Springboard Non-Profit Consumer Credit Management. “Everything from getting a home loan to getting a job depends on having good credit. Over the last year, we’ve seen a rise in the number of clients contacting us for credit correction services. It’s important for consumers to access their reports at least yearly, and dispute any inaccurate or outdated information promptly and vigorously in order to preserve their good credit.”

Springboard, a community-based organization that helps consumers with money, credit, and debt issues, suggests staggering requests for free reports bureau by bureau and requesting a new report every four months. This creates a basic monitoring service, allowing the consumer to see if changes have occurred in the overall report since the last request. Consumers should be aware, however, that the same information may or may not appear on all three reports, since not all credit grantors report to each bureau.

If consumers find errors and need assistance with the dispute process, Springboard offers a Credit Correction and Education Program and will dispute the errors on behalf of the client. Inaccurate information on a credit report can also be a product of identity theft, and sometimes reviewing a credit report is the first sign that something is amiss. Correcting credit issues resulting from identity theft can be a long and complex process. Springboard also offers services to help identity theft victims. Both the CCEP and ID Theft programs are offered at a fee that is far less than similar services offered by many for-profit companies.

For consumers who don’t have access to the Internet, credit reports can be requested by phone at (877) 322-8228. An Annual Credit Report Request Form can be downloaded from http://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/requestformfinal.pdf and mailed to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281 to receive a report by mail.

Springboard can be reached by phone at (800) WISE PLAN.

About Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management

Springboard, a nonprofit credit counseling and education organization founded in 1974, offers assistance with money management and budgeting through confidential counseling, debt management and education programs for financially troubled consumers. Springboard is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, signifying high standards for agency governance, fiscal integrity, counselor certification and service delivery policies that ensure low-cost confidential services performed in an ethical manner. Springboard is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. Springboard has counseling locations throughout Southern California offering face-to-face, online and nationwide phone counseling services. For more information on Springboard, call 1-800-947-3752 ext. 702 or visit their web site at http://www.credit.org.

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