The three major US credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – have extended their offer of free weekly credit reports to consumers by one year, until April 20, 2022. The reports, available at AnnualCreditReport.com, are made available to all. Americans will offer protection as many face financial hardship due to the coronavirus.
Prior to last year’s offer, you could get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from every credit bureau. Lenders and online credit education tools also often provide free reports on demand.
What should you know about the free weekly credit reports of the large offices, and what should you look for in your reports?
Should You Check Your Credit Report During The COVID-19 Crisis?
“Checking your credit report weekly is a great way to stay on top of your credit in these uncertain times,” says Beverly Harzog, bestselling author, credit card expert and consumer credit analyst at US News. “This is a great opportunity to review your reports for errors or signs of fraud. “
Check your financial accounts online every day, says Harzog, and use the free weekly credit reports if you’re concerned about the accuracy of the reports. Credit reports are records of your financial health and form the basis of credit scores.
Lenders and others examine your credit report to determine your solvency for a loan or an apartment or even if you are hired for a job.
The economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic means that many credit card bills and other debts go unpaid. Lenders are allow consumers to delay certain payments without a negative credit report, but consumers should verify that accounts are shown as up-to-date on their credit reports.
What should you do with your free credit reports?
- Basic information, such as your name and address. An incorrect variation of your name or an address where you have never lived could indicate fraud.
- Your accounts ; an account you don’t know by name is a red flag.
- Payment history on your accounts. Even though all three credit bureaus have said that forbearance or deferred payment plans won’t hurt credit reports, make sure they follow through.
If you find an error, contact the credit bureau that reported the information and the creditor of the account. You will need to contact each credit bureau separately to dispute the information in your credit report.
“Be sure to also monitor your credit score so you have a complete view of your credit status,” says Harzog.
Should You Check Your Credit Every Week?
You can check your credit every week, but do you really need it? It depends on your financial situation.
“Anyone going through a divorce or a victim of fraud should be extremely vigilant,” Harzog said. “If you are unable to pay your bills and have accommodation in place, check your reports weekly to make sure your account is still in good standing. Lenders could make mistakes.
For everyone else, Harzog recommends checking your report at least once a month, as this is a great opportunity to do so at no cost.
“You can look at it for errors and signs of fraud, which can lower your score unnecessarily and prevent you from getting credit, in case you need it,” she says.
How Can You Get Your Free Credit Reports?
You can go online, call or mail a form to get your credit reports. Here’s how you can get a report, however you prefer.
Website: Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and enter the required personal information, including your social security number and date of birth. You can print copies immediately.
Number free of charge: Call 877-322-8228 to have your reports mailed to you.
If you want more COVID-19 credit resources, each credit bureau offers these online support centers: