January 16, 2009
Since 2005, an amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act has allowed people to get one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
A credit report contains information about a consumer's credit history, including a listing of all credit cards, whether bills have been paid on time, and whether the consumer has been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy.
National consumer reporting agencies sell the information to credit card companies and other creditors, insurers, employers and businesses that use it to determine whether to approve an application for credit, insurance, loans and employment. A poor credit history can result in rejection of credit or higher interest rates on a loan.