Free Credit Reports: Here’s How to Receive Yours

The pandemic began in the United States; the three largest credit bureaus permitted Americans to view their credit report for free every week until the 20th of April 2021, instead of the annual access typically required under federal law.

Today, the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion–have announced the extension of this access until April 20th in 2022.

The bureaus’ joint hub for free credit reports, AnnualCreditReport.com, typically allows consumers to access one free credit report from each bureau each year. 

In addition, extending the weekly allowance by one year gives customers more time to keep a close check on their credit report in a period when they might be struggling to pay their debts and when fraudsters are taking advantage of everything from stimulus checks and unemployment checks.

“For consumers, making sure that credit remains in good standing through this difficult time is more than paying auto loans, mortgages, credit card debts as well as other obligations every month,” said Francis Creighton, the president and CEO of Consumer Data Industry Association, in the bureau’s press announcement. “Consumers need to have the tools to know about their financial data.”

Why you should check your Credit Report Regularly

Your credit report reveals the number of credit cards or loans that you’ve got open (like student, car, or private loans) along with the balance of these accounts. 

No matter if you’re in the middle of debt, or none whatsoever, it’s vital to keep track of the report as you’ll prove your credit standing if you wish to get credit in the future, such as to purchase a new car, purchase an apartment or go to college down the road.

Creditors report your status and the amount of your balance to credit bureaus each month, and there’s no specific time frame for when this needs to be done in any given month. 

Access to more frequently updated credit reports can be particularly beneficial for those who are participating in the temporary forbearance programs provided by the creditors during the pandemic in that it lets them keep track of in-real-time the status of their debt and whether it’s appropriately reported.

The CARES Act required many creditors to report accounts that are in temporary forbearance to be current instead of past due, such as federally-backed mortgages and federal loans for students. This is a crucial change that will help preserve credit scores as long as possible during the pandemic.

“During an era of massive economic turmoil, such as the Covid-19 epidemic, greater access to information about credit reports assists those who struggle hardest,” says Bruce McClary.

He is the senior vice president of communications for the non-profit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “As specific arrangements are created to assist people in keeping their accounts on track and be aware of how these arrangements are disclosed.”

A regular check of your credit report will help you identify possible frauds quickly. The criminals have been swift into profit from victims of the epidemic of identity theft: words for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nearly doubled between the years of 2019 and 2020 and fraudulent use of credit cards documents issued by the government or benefits fraud, as well as loan/lease fraud the most common types of identity theft.

What is the best way to Access Your Free Credit Reports?

To access your free credit reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll have to answer a few questions to verify your identity before you can view your reports. 

If you’re having difficulty getting your credit report on the internet, you may request it over the telephone or by mail. You can get your report from one of the credit bureaus or all three simultaneously.

These reports don’t reveal an individual credit score. Still, they offer a complete account of your financial activity that includes payments history and the balances of mortgages, credit cards, personal, car, and student loans.

When you open your account, Make sure that all the data is accurate. If you’ve paid the minimum each month, your account should be listed as satisfactory. If you have a past-due balance or a collection account, it will be noted on your account report.

Learn more about how to deal with mistakes on your Credit Report

If you spot an error in your report, Do not hesitate to dispute the information to the credit bureau. Get started as soon as possible to verify the accounts that are in dispute. 

The FTC provides a manual and sample letters to help you do this. You’ll also have to call the person responsible for your account to rectify your account’s status.

Be aware that each credit bureau might contain different information regarding your financial background, so make sure you review each one for the accuracy of their data. 

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