Jump$tart Survey Shows Student Lack Knowledge About Credit Reports


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Media Contact:   Laura Levine, 202-466-8610



Jump$tart Survey Shows Students

Lack Knowledge about Free Credit Reports

National “Protect Your Identity” Week could Boost Awareness

WASHINGTON, DC—October 22, 2008— A recent survey by the Jump$tart Coalition® for Personal Financial Literacy demonstrated that less than half of the high school seniors surveyed realize the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies are required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report each year. Public awareness efforts such as National “Protect Your Identity” Week could play an important role in educating consumers of all ages.

In the survey, funded by the Merrill Lynch Foundation, only 47.7 percent of the high school students knew they could check their credit report for free once a year. College students did better—nearly three quarters of them knew about the free credit report—but overall, the research seems to indicate a lack of knowledge in this area. The survey has been conducted since 1997 on Jump$tart’s behalf by Lewis Mandell, Ph.D., Kermit O. Hanson Visiting Professor of Finance and Business Economics at the University of Washington and Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and his analysis of this year’s survey will be published in a book, early in 2009.

The Merrill Lynch Foundation also funded the previous Jump$tart surveys in 2004 and 2006 and an online college survey in 2008.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America,” noted Dr. Mandell. “We must do everything we can to educate our nation’s young people about their rights and responsibilities in protecting their good names. Many times students don’t even know they have a credit report. If, however, they even have a cell phone in their names, they probably have their own credit record.”

“Only one Web site is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law— www.annualcreditreport.com,” noted Laura Levine, executive director of the Jump$tart Coalition. “Other Web sites often claim to offer ‘free credit reports,’ ‘free credit scores’ or ‘free credit monitoring.’ They are not, however, part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.”

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. For more information, about identity theft and other issues, check the Jump$tart Coalition Clearinghouse at (http://www.jumpstart.org/search.cfm) and many of its partners’ sites.

About Jump$tart

The Jump$tart Coalition® has grown to include more than 180 national partners and 48 affiliated state coalitions. The Jump$tart Clearinghouse, which lists more than 700 titles of financial literacy materials available for all, can be found at www.jumpstartclearinghouse.org.  A map of state-by-state financial education requirements can be found at www.jumpstart.org under “Legislation.” More information about Jump$tart and its biennial survey can be found at www.jumpstart.org, including a media press kit in the “News” section.