How good is your credit rating? Is the report on it up to date? Does the report contain any inaccuracies?

The only way to know for sure is to get a copy of the report under the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act. But you'll have to pay for it - unless your application for credit has been rejected. Then you'll get a free copy.If you choose to pay for a copy, get ready for a sharp twinge in the wallet. The three major credit agencies charge up to $39 a year to keep consumers up to date on their own credit ratings. Since you can't be sure which lenders are using which agencies, it can cost more than $100 a year just to catch errors in your own credit records.

This system simply doesn't make sense. Since consumers already pay for the nation's credit reporting system, this page suggested last year that consumers ought to get a free copy of their credit report.

So it's encouraging to see that Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is trying to get Congress to do just that.

Rep. Schumer has introduced a bill that would require the credit companies to send a report each year to everyone in their files and to correct any errors within 30 days.

Considering the fact that credit reporting companies process two billion changes each month, there's enormous potential for confusing the records of people with similar names or garbling various data. In fact, Newsday reported this week that the most recent comprehensive survey of nine-million credit reports found that three million of them contained at least one error.

Consumers shouldn't have to pay for the privilege of discovering and correcting inaccuracies in their credit records. By all means, Congress should pass the Schumer bill.