Weekly Credit Reports Are Still Free. Here's Why It Pays to Check Yours Often

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KEY POINTS

  • You're normally entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each reporting bureau per year.
  • Right now, you can access your credit report for free every week, and doing so is essential if you're planning to get a loan.


It's information that's really important to have.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a lot of aid made available to the public, like stimulus checks and boosted unemployment benefits. There was also a notable uptick in fraud as criminals tried to steal that aid away from the people who were entitled to it.

To help combat that and protect consumers, credit reports were made available for free on a weekly basis. Normally, consumers can only access their credit report for free once a year from each of the major reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Initially, free weekly reports were set to run out earlier this year. But the credit bureaus have extended that benefit through Dec. 31, 2022. And it pays to take advantage.

Protect yourself

Your credit report contains detailed information about your outstanding debts. It also has information on your credit history and credit mix.

All of that information is important to have for a few reasons. First, let's say you're looking to apply for a major loan, like a mortgage. If you see a red flag on your credit report, you can bet lenders will notice it, too. And so you'll have an opportunity to remedy that situation before applying and potentially getting rejected.

Also, it's possible that your credit report could contain an error. Credit report mistakes are actually quite common, but some could impact you negatively.

Say your credit report lists a delinquent debt you never racked up. That's the sort of thing that could prevent you from getting approved for a new loan or credit card. Once you become aware of that error, you can take steps to get it corrected.

Finally, checking your credit report might clue you into the fact that your identity has been stolen. Let's say you read your report and notice a loan in your name that you never took out. In following up, you might discover that someone gained access to your Social Security number and has been running up a tab in your name. From there, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as freezing your credit.

Do you need to check your credit report every week?

Probably not. Chances are, it won't look all that different from one week to the next. But should you consider checking yours once a month as long as it won't cost you anything? Absolutely -- especially if you're gearing up to apply for a big loan or you're waiting for a resolution on an error you previously spotted.

Free weekly credit reports have been extended before, so they may get extended beyond this December. But until then, it pays to take advantage of no-cost access to your credit history and activity.

Now one thing you should know about credit reports is that frustratingly enough, yours won't contain your actual credit score. And that's an important number to have. But it still pays to check your credit report on a regular basis, because the information it contains could be an indication that your score itself has gone up or down.

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