Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003

Legislation in the United States requiring the three major credit reporting agencies to disclose an individual's credit reports to that individual once per year for free. One may request a free report through a website or telephone number managed by the three agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission. The Act contains provisions making identity theft more difficult. See also: Fair Credit Reporting Act.

FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act).

Designed to help consumers check their credit reports for accuracy and detect identity theft early, the FACT Act gives every consumer the right to request a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- once a year.

To obtain your free reports, you must request them through the Annual Credit Report Request Service (www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228).

If you request your credit report directly from one of the three credit reporting agencies or through another service, you'll pay a fee.

Most experts recommend staggering your requests for the free reports -- for instance, ordering one in January, the second in May, and the third in September -- so that you can keep an eye on your credit throughout the year.

It's also a good idea to check your report at least two months before you anticipate applying for a major loan or a job, so you can notify the credit bureau if you find any inaccuracies.

You're also entitled to a free report directly from the credit reporting bureaus if you've recently been denied credit, have been turned down for a job, are on public assistance, or have reason to suspect that you're a victim of credit fraud or identity theft.

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