You probably have one time or another have heard of the FACT ACT, especially if you have had problems with your credit reports or have been a victim of possible identity theft. But the focus of this article is to briefly touch on some key points that are related to the FACT ACT and what they mean to you as an everyday consumer.

Here is just a brief history of the FACT ACT. Wait just a second. Before we proceed that does stand for The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. This sweeping law was put into place as an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act which is also known as FCRA. OK, still with me? Good! Then let’s proceed.

The biggest reason this Act was put into place was to help prevent the rising crime of identity that was occurring in epic proportions in the early 2000’s. If you think that identity theft wasn’t as big of a deal as what everyone made it out to be. Think again. In early 2003, a shocking report was released by the Federal Trade Commission that estimated approximately 10 million people were victims of identity theft in 2002 alone!

Needless to say, this alone was enough to make Congress act. And with that said, The FACT ACT was created and signed into law in late 2003 with even more provisions and updates added in December of 2004

One of the key elements of the Act was to give consumers better access to their credit reports to make sure that they weren’t becoming an unknown victim of identity theft.

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Before the FACT ACT was put into law, you had to order your credit report and the going rate was around $9.50 per report. With the enactment of this legislation, you now are entitled to a free credit report on a yearly basis from all three of the major agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. In fact, that process is now streamlined through a central source on line that has been established by the reporting agencies. You can access your credit reports by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

Another key point of this ACT was to give military members the ability to set what is called an “active duty alert” into their credit file. Since someone on military duty outside of the country usually won’t be opening many accounts, this can alert the agencies to possibly suspicious activity. And the nice thing, it stays in place in a persons file for a duration of 12 months.

We also now have the ability to block certain negative items in our credit report just in case they were due to identity theft. You have to remember, that until you have resolution to identity theft, accounts that were opened and misused will still be on your credit report.

Obtaining information from businesses though that opened such accounts has now also been streamlined under The FACT ACT. This gives you even more ways to clear up problems should they occur.

The bottom line is this, The FACT ACT was long overdue. And although it may not be perfect, it certainly goes a long way in protecting us from the rising crime of identity theft.

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