Just a reminder that, under the year-long roll-out of eligibility for free yearly credit reports authorized under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), another region of the country came on line on June 1.


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Residents of the following states are now eligible to receive a free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian):

Alabama Kentucky South Carolina
Arkansas Louisiana Tennessee
Florida Mississippi Texas
Georgia Oklahoma '

If you live in one of the above states or in the West and Midwest which became eligible in January and March respectively, go online to www.annualcreditreport.com and request your report. Be smart about it, however, there are three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Stagger free credit report requests; from TransUnion today, from a second vendor in October, then in February from the third. This gives you a full year's coverage before you start over again in June of 2006.

You can also order by phone at 1 (877) 322-8228 or file a mail request at:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5811

If you order by mail, however, you must first download a request form using Adobe from the above referenced web site. This seems to make this method of ordering pretty much impossible for the computer impaired.

If you are ordering a report for a minor child (defined as less than 13 years of age) you will be required to provide a copy of the child's birth certificate, Social Security Card, and proof of your guardianship. This seems onerous, but probably sensible given what is going on in the world.

The web site provides a caution that we had not thought about. Do not order a free credit report through a third party. Many mortgage sites offer such a service, but that allows one more set of hands for your private information to pass through. Order directly from www.annualcreditreport.com or through one of the three major credit bureaus: www.experian.com, www.equifax.com or www.transunion.com.

While we reported in April about the phenomenal increase of leaks from, hacks into, and the outright selling of personal information by those in charge of our financial well-being, it has gotten even worse since then. You must stay on top of your credit history until somebody up there (in Washington we mean) takes realistic steps to protect us.