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Free Credit Reports Available


Texans can now get a free copy of their credit report every
12 months from each of the three national credit bureaus -
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax - by going to
www.annualcreditreport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.
Free credit reports were mandated by the Fair and
Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 to help reduce
the fast-growing crime of identity theft.  If someone opens a
credit  card account in your name, you can put a stop to it
with a well-timed check of your credit report.

It's also smart to checkBack it before applying for a
mortgage or car loan, since information in your credit
report is used to set your credit score, which helps
determine your interest rate.

When you get your credit report, look for incorrect names
and addresses; accounts that don't belong to you;
accounts incorrectly listed as open or delinquent; and
bankruptcies or other judgments that don't belong to you.

When the law was passed, credit bureaus worried that
they'd be overwhelmed with requests, so the government
let them roll out the program across the country from west
to east.

                      THINGS TO KNOW

Type www.annualcreditreport.com carefully into the
address field of your Web browser.  Typos can take you to
sites that try to sell you all sorts of products.

You can get your credit report online instantly or by mail,
either from the Web site or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

You may not want to grab all three credit reports at the
same time.  You can order one now, then space out the
two others through the 12 month period.  Any more than
that and you'll have to pay the state-mandated cost of

The law doesn't cover credit scores; you'll have to pay to
get yours.

By Pamela Yip, Dallas Morning News Personal Finance