by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on March 22, 2021
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Everyone can access credit reports more frequently for the next 12 months.
Monitoring your credit report is always important. To do so, simply request a copy from each of the three major reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Normally, you're entitled to one free report from each bureau each year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, all three bureaus made credit reports available weekly at no cost through April 2021. And now, they've extended the free reports through April 2022.
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The information contained in your credit report largely determines whether you're eligible to borrow money. And if there's inaccurate information in it that works against you, you can correct it. An estimated 63% of complaints made to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2020 related to credit reports errors, according to consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG, so it pays to give yours a thorough look.
Furthermore, your credit report may alert you to fraud. Your credit report lists your open accounts. If you take a look and there's an account you don't recognize, it could mean someone opened it in your name without your knowledge, which is an issue you want to address as soon as possible.
Probably not. The only time you might need to check your credit report weekly is if there's an item under dispute you need resolved quickly. For example, your credit report could say you have a delinquent debt like an unpaid credit card balance that you settled long ago. If you're applying for a mortgage, that could hurt your chances of approval. In that case, you might check your credit report weekly until you see that the bureau removes the item.
Also, if you were recently a victim of financial fraud -- say, someone got access to one of your credit cards or took out a loan in your name -- it pays to closely monitor your credit reports weekly to check for signs of suspicious activity.
More usual circumstances, however, do not call for a weekly credit report check. Rather, you can check your credit report once every three months, or once a month if you want to be more vigilant. And it's always helpful to check your credit report before applying for a mortgage or any other large loan.
Keep in mind that your credit report generally doesn't contain your actual credit score. You may be able to get your score for free, however, through your bank or credit card issuer.
While you can visit each credit bureau's website individually to access your credit report, you can also visit annualcreditreport.com to get all of them at once. If you've never looked at your credit report before, it's especially worthwhile to obtain copies from all the bureaus. You never know what important and useful information might be in them.
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