Money: It's Yours--For Free

A new law allows consumers to check their credit once a year without charge

Your credit report affects your financial life in ways you may not imagine. It's the linchpin that determines whether you can get a mortgage, car loan or credit card--and how much interest you'll pay. It influences whether you can get utilities, and whether you'll have to pay your provider a deposit. It even affects the rates you pay on homeowner's and auto insurance.

And it's often wrong. A June study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that a shocking 79% of credit reports contain mistakes. What's more, in 1 out of 4 reports, the mistakes are serious enough to...

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