State officials have announced the release of a new booklet designed to better inform Maine consumers about credit reports and credit scores.

The Downeaster Common Sense Guide: Credit Bureaus and Credit Reports, the latest in a series of “Downeaster” guides issued by the Bureau to help consumers make informed decisions about personal finance issues, covers such topics as how consumers can obtain free copies of their credit reports each year; correct errors and omissions on those reports; and understand how credit scores are compiled. The booklet is offered free of charge to Mainers.

“This new guide is a timely resource for Mainers who want to view their free credit reports, interpret what’s in those reports and fix factual errors,” Governor Paul LePage said. “Credit histories and credit scores affect the cost of credit, are considered in many employment background checks and even impact insurance costs, so it’s essential for consumers to ensure their reports are 100 percent accurate.”

Principal Examiner David Leach of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection emphasized the role his agency plays in assisting Maine consumers to understand the importance of credit reports and the benefits of periodic reviews and corrections of their reports.

“In Maine, the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection is the primary enforcer of both the federal and state Fair Credit Reporting Acts,” Leach said. “Through this guide, we encourage all Maine consumers to order free copies of their credit reports each year, and to carefully review them for errors, and even the occurrence of identity theft.”

Leach noted that the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union – provide a safe, secure website,www.AnnualCreditReport.com, where consumers can view their own reports. For those who wish to use a telephone or the mail, the booklet provides a toll-free number where consumer can place a telephone request for their reports, which they’ll receive within two weeks. The Bureau’s publication also includes a form that Mainers can fill out and mail in for their free reports.

Bureau Superintendent William Lund added, “Credit scores are primarily a reflection of the content of our credit reports. Higher credit scores can save money on loans and insurance premiums, so we should all make certain the underlying credit report information is accurate. In our experience, as many as twenty-five percent of all Mainers’ credit reports contain errors or are incomplete, so it’s critical that consumers review their reports and dispute inaccuracies, leading to correction of the reports.”

This new Downeaster guide can be ordered by calling the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine). It is also available on the Bureau’s website under “Publications” atwww.credit.maine.gov. Other “Downeaster” booklets available online or by calling cover topics including home-buying, elder financial protection, financing a college education, and voiding scams.


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