What would you do if you applied for credit and received a letter of rejection? In the past, credit bureaus generally followed the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which says that a creditor who denies you credit must tell you which credit bureau supplied the report upon which it based its decision. You then had 30 days to get a free copy of the credit report from that bureau.

However, if there was a mistake and you wanted to find out whether other credit bureaus were reporting that erroneous information, you had to pay $10 to $15 for each of those other reports.Now the big three credit bureaus in the U.S. are providing a little relief from the hassle you might find yourself in if there is a mistake in your credit report. According to the January issue of CHANGING TIMES magazine, Equifax, Trans Union and TRW claim to have improved their policies on providing free credit reports after you've been turned down for credit.

They will now send their version of your credit report for free, no matter who supplied the original information, as long as you send a copy of the rejection letter.

The big three bureaus also say they'll honor requests for free reports for at least 60 days from the date of the credit denial, and sometimes longer.

A spokesman for the trade group Associated Credit Bureaus says it will probably make this a formal policy in 1991. That would mean all 1,000 member credit bureaus would have to comply.

Car insurance

Also according to CHANGING TIMES, if you want to save money on automobile insurance premiums, send your college student back to school without a car.

If your child's college is in a big city, insurance premiums may run 300 percent more than in suburban or rural areas. If your child is rated as an occasional driver on the car, he will be considered the principal driver with the category's increased premiums if he takes the car away to school for nine months.

If you send your child to a small-town school and he is already the car's principal driver, rates probably wouldn't increase that much. But rates vary so check with your insurance company.