TRW broke ranks with other leading credit bureaus and offered to send consumers who request it a free yearly copy of their file. The company said the free-report program would start next year.

The company says it's interested in improving the accuracy of its records by involving consumers more in the credit process. But it's probably also interested in polishing its image, battered by a tide of negative news reports.

TRW's two top rivals, Equifax and Trans Union, don't plan to follow suit. But Congress will soon consider legislation to allow consumers a free look at their files.

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