WASHINGTON-Consumers nationwide will have access to free credit reports, thanks to the final effective date of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, starting Sept. 1. Consumers Union wants to ensure that consumers are aware of this new benefit and how to use it. "All the data security scandals this year have underscored how important it is for consumers to monitor their credit reports regularly to detect possible identity theft," Susanna Montezemolo, policy analyst with Consumers Union's Financial Privacy Now campaign, commented. "This new law makes it easier for consumers to keep an eye out for fraud and to make sure their reports offer a fair picture of their credit history." Consumers Union has published "Your Credit Matters," an online guide on how to order a free credit report, review it for accuracy, and correct mistakes available at: http://www.consumersunion.org/issues/creditmatters.html. This last phase of offering free credit reports encompasses consumers in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all U.S. territories. While the credit report is free, actual credit scores can be purchased from the three major credit reporting agencies for a reasonable fee. The free credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228 or mailing a request form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

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