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Consumer Reports

Some people eligible for free credit reports | (KRT) Checking your credit report is a vital step before you invest in a mortgage or take out a personal, business or auto loan.

Your credit file can reveal black marks - such as late payments, overdraft charges or other problems - that can prevent you from getting a lender's best interest rates. It can also help you determine if you've been a victim of identity theft.

You can receive one free credit report each year if you live in Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Vermont. You can get it at a discount if you live in California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Montana or the U.S. Virgin Islands. For all other states, a fee of $9 applies.

You're also entitled to one free report every 12 months no matter where you live, if you:

— Are unemployed and intend to apply for unemployment benefits.

— Are receiving public welfare assistance.

— Believe you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft.

— Have been denied credit, insurance or employment due to your credit record.

To get a copy of your credit report, contact one of the three credit agencies that collect information on you and your personal financial actions. In the United States, call Equifax at (800) 997-2493, Experian at (800) 397-3742 or Trans Union at (800) 888-4213

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