Monitoring Sites Draw Credit 'Hypochondriacs'

Tighter lending by banks and tough economic conditions have raised awareness among consumers about the importance of credit reports and credit scores in determining the interest rates lenders set for them. Since the Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) was signed into law in 2003, consumers have been entitled to receive on request free credit reports annually from the three leading credit bureaus—Equifax (EFX), TransUnion, and Experian. That legislation amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970 and gave birth to a centralized Web site called AnnualCreditReport.com, where consumers can get their free reports. (The government couldn't call its site FreeCreditReport.com because the name was already in use by Experian.)

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