Press Release: News Release May 2003: State Bar of Wisconsin issues consumer alert:

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    News Release May 2003: State Bar of Wisconsin issues consumer alert

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    For Immediate Release
      CONTACT: Christi Powers
    State Bar of Wisconsin
    (800) 444-9404, ext. 6025
    org cpowers wisbar wisbar cpowers org

    State Bar of Wisconsin issues consumer alert
    Dispels misinformation concerning credit reports

    MADISON, May 19, 2003 - The State Bar of Wisconsin has issued an alert to warn consumers of false information distributed via e-mail concerning their credit reports.

    The State Bar's Consumer Information & Protection committee cautions consumers about a rumor currently circulating, that after July 1, 2003, anyone who asks will have access to your credit report.

    "This is false," said Jim Rabbit, a division administrator for the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. "The rules about credit report access are not changing on July 1 and will continue with their current limitations," he said.

    Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines cite that credit information can only be released to lenders and insurers or entities with a legitimate business need. If a credit record is obtained and used for unsolicited offers, consumers can opt out of this process by calling 1-888-567-8688.

    Rabbit noted that the rumors may have stemmed from a misinterpretation of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that sets a July 1 deadline requiring financial institutions to notify consumers of the institution's privacy policies concerning release of their personal financial information. This federal law was passed to prevent obtaining personal information without consumer consent in an attempt to market products to them.

    "This deadline only applies to institutions - not to consumers," said. "But we still advise folks to not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you're dealing with," he said.

    For more information about the e-mail, FTC guidelines or other credit issues, visit or contact Kris Wenzel at (608) 250-6185.