Last year TRW, the giant credit reporting company, bowed to public and court pressure.
Today it's showtime. Starting now, if you want a copy of your TRW credit report you're entitled to get one free. If you want more than one copy within a year, TRW has reduced the fee to $7.50 from $15 per report. And if you've been denied credit, you're also entitled to a free report to help understand why.
All this is in response to government complaints and suits filed by the FTC, Michigan and 18 other states over accuracy. TRW underwent sweeping changes last year in the way it does business.
But once you see the report, full of jargon and obscure codes, you may not ever want an encore performance.
TRW says its error rate is less than 2 percent. But that's 2 percent of 170 million Americans.
And an error on your credit report can be more than annoying. Errors can hamper you in getting credit cards, disqualify you for a mortgage, thwart efforts to buy a car or even affect whether you land a job.
That's why getting a copy of your report, obscure as some of it may appear, probably is a good idea.
"The biggest thing that will come out of this is checking the reports for inaccuracies," says Harry Richardson, a counselor at Credit Counseling Centers Inc., a nonprofit organization.
For a copy of your report, write (no calls) to:
TRW Consumer Assistance, P.O. Box 2350, Chatsworth, Calif. 91313-2350. Include your full name, including initials and designations such as Jr., Sr., II. Also include current address (previous address if you've moved in the last five years), Social Security number, year of birth, spouse's first name if married.