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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Frugal Corner: Credit reports really are free

When it comes to credit reports, it’s become a battle of the jingles.

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a series of musical videos for, the Web site where people truly can get a free copy of their credit report once a year. The ads mimic the ubiquitous musical commercials for, a Web site that requires paid membership, charges various fees for services and has a rather limited idea of the meaning of “free.”

One of the FTC’s videos includes this musical message from a young man playing guitar, dressed in period garb, and looking an awful lot like the young man playing guitar in the more famous commercials.

“Beware of the others/There’s always a catch/They claim to be free/But strings are attached.”

Just to be clear: Under federal law, you’re entitled to a free copy of each of your three credit reports per year. You can get those reports at The other site charges a membership fee, offers limited access to the reports, and charges fees for other services.

Double whammy

Speaking of credit, did you know that more employers are checking credit reports of job candidates?

One in six companies surveyed recently by TransUnion, one of the three credit-reporting agencies, said they checked credit scores as part of their regular hiring process. (The survey’s margin of error is 6.8 percentage points.)

It’s hard to say how much the credit report matters, but 15 percent of those surveyed said the score played at least some role in their decisions about whom to hire. That may be bad news for those out of work in this economy, if their creditworthiness is suffering as a result.

Find that job

As spring break approaches, it’s time for kids who want a summer job to start looking. This year’s job market is likely to be a tough one, so here are some tips for landing a summer job, culled from a few sources:

•Use any family connections you have, but don’t rely on your parents to do much more than ask around.

•Call or visit stores or restaurants that you think may need summer help, and ask for an application.

•Consider possibilities beyond retail and restaurants: yard care, summer camps, swimming pools, child care and computer assistance all offer some possibilities.

•Dress for business when calling on employers. No shorts, flip-flops, torn jeans, T-shirts – in short, tamp down your style, at least at first.

•Take a résumé with you and be polite.

•Write a thank you note after an interview.

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