What is it now – seven years since Americans were given the right to claim free credit reports, one every year from each one of the credit reporting agencies? It was the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act from a year before that, that this right came to every American by. Here’s a question – have you ever actually applied to be given your free credit reports?
Here’s what you need to know about everyone around you – in the seven years since the law gave every citizen the right to get their own copies, only about 30 million people have claimed them each year. That is like a tenth the number of consumers there are in this country.
That is a tenth of the number of files for consumer credit that each one of the credit reporting agencies has on file. That means that while a half billion free credit reports should be going out every year, hardly anyone cares. Not to labor the point, but why exactly is no one taking advantage of what is coming to them for free?
A part of that is that many people just can’t be bothered. It’s apathy. Until our credit score actually gets in our way and makes it difficult for us to get a or a job that we want, we never really want to think about things that are as boring as credit reports.
Free or not free. The few people who do actually make it their business to be engaged with their financial lives are often discouraged by how it is often not as simple as it seems to actually get those free credit reports.
People are somehow under the impression that even if it’s free, they just need make one misstep and they’ll be hit with a fee. And when people go to the wrong website, it’s been actually known to happen.
Annualcreditreport.gov, which is the official website to head to for your free reports, doesn’t charge anything. Other look-alike websites actually do. Your clue is when they ask you for your credit card number.
Did you ever find when you were late for an important appointment that you couldn’t bear to look at the clock? That’s the kind of feeling that many consumers feel when they think about claiming their free credit reports.
They know that there’s something unpleasant on file about them, and they don’t want to look at it. But you can’t really ignore the possibility that there are lots of people out there who still don’t know that they can get free credit reports.
Back in the year 2004 when the law was first passed that gave consumers their right to collect free reports, the newspapers and TV finance shows were so excited about this they could talk about nothing else. claim free credit Of course, they’ve moved on from the topic since then. Apparently, the short-term wall-to-wall coverage that the subject received back then really didn’t get to as many people as it should have.