Consumers will be able dispute inaccurate information about them directly with the information furnishers, including financial institutions that provide negative items to the three credit reporting agencies, according to a new rule by the Federal Trade Commission that takes effect July 1. The FTC confirmed that the so-called Furnisher Rule is set for implementation during a hearing by a House panel yesterday on consumer credit reporting and scoring issues.

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with a promoter of credit repair and debt relief services for $2.5 million over charges of deceiving customers with false promises of cleaning up their credit and drastically reducing their debt. The FTC complaint alleged that Sam Tarad Sky, and his companies – Credit Restoration Brokers and Debt Negotiations Associates – illegally charged consumers $2,199 before performing any service, and failed to tell customers they could cancel their contract within three business days.

LifeLock — whose CEO brashly displayed his Social Security number in commercials to demonstrate his company’s anti-identity theft prowess — has settled with the Federal Trade Commission on charges it used false claims in promotions. The FTC called it one of its largest “coordinated settlements on record.” LifeLock has agreed to pay $11 million to the FTC and $1 million to a group of 35 state attorneys general.

A credit repair company that allegedly made false claims it could raise consumers’ credit ratings and illegally charged advance fees will settle with the Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency said today. The FTC had charged Chicago-based Advantage Credit Repair and Mark D. Solomon with violating federal law by “falsely promising to remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, even if it was accurate and current.” The charges were part of a federal-state crackdown on credit repair scams.

Starting April 1, advertisements peddling “free credit reports” will require new disclosures to help consumers avoid confusing offers – which often require customers to spend money on credit monitoring or other products or services, the Federal Trade Commission said today. Consumers may not realize that they are entitled to a “no-strings-attached” free credit report at, the FTC said.

With stricter credit card laws taking effect this week, there’s even more bad news for card issuers. The average credit card debt continued its slide in the fourth quarter 2009, down to $5,434, a 3.18 dip from the previous quarter and down 5 percent from a year ago, reported TransUnion. The credit bureau also reported that the national credit card delinquency rate, the ratio of card borrowers 90 days late, increased to 1.21 percent in the fourth quarter, up 10 percent from the previous quarter, but remained flat year over year.

The Federal Trade Commission has lowered the maximum a consumer can be charged for an extra credit report, from $11 to $10.50, effective Jan. 1. The $10.50 charge applies when a consumer, who has already received a free annual credit report, does not otherwise qualify for an additional free report.

Lenders who offer less favorable terms to some based on their credit report will have to provide the borrowers with so-called “risk-based pricing” notices, according to new rules reported today by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission. The rules mean that now consumers with some negative information on their credit reports will be better informed and be able to track vital credit scoring factors. And they will be able to do so more cheaply. Risk-based pricing notices enable consumers to obtain a free credit report.

When you are choosing a credit card, there are many features — and several kinds of cards — to consider: Fees, charges, interest rates, and benefits can vary among credit card issuers. As a result, some credit cards that look like a great deal at first glance may lose their appeal once you read the terms and conditions of use and calculate how the fees could affect your available credit.