Weekly Credit Reports Are Free Through April. But What Happens After That?

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  • Credit reports were made available for free on a weekly basis due to an uptick in financial fraud during the pandemic.
  • Come April, those free weekly reports are going away, but that doesn't mean consumers can't still check them easily.

Here's what to know when this helpful option runs out.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a world of financial upheaval for many Americans. Between stimulus aid and relief programs, the potential for fraud increased. Not only that, but incidents of actual fraud increased, to the point where Americans had lost almost $600 million to fraud as of late 2021.

To give consumers more protection against fraud, credit reports were made free on a weekly basis. But come April, that benefit is going away. Still, that doesn't mean you won't have options for keeping tabs on your credit beyond April.

You can still access your credit report for free

Free credit reports are not a pandemic-related perk. Free weekly reports are, but even before the health crisis erupted, consumers could check their credit reports without having to pay. And once those free weekly reports are off the table, you'll still be entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from each major reporting bureau -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

In other words, if you want to keep regular tabs on your credit record, you still have the option to access a credit report every four months without having to pay. And for the most part, that should suffice.

It's a good idea to check your credit report every few months to make sure you don't spot any fraudulent activity, like an open credit card account you don't recognize. It's also a good idea to take a look at your personal credit mix, as well as your various credit card balances.

Seeing that information mapped out for you might set a light bulb off in your head to, for example, whittle down some of your credit card debt if it's gotten high or hold off on applying for a new credit card if you recently opened several accounts. It might also inspire you to keep a long-standing credit card account open if you see that your remaining accounts are much newer, as the length of your credit history can impact your credit score.

But generally, you don't have to check your credit report on a weekly basis, so losing free weekly reports isn't such a harsh blow.

You should also know that even if you do end up having to pay to access your credit report, by law, you can't be charged more than $13.50 per report. Now obviously, paying nothing is better than having to pay a fee. But if you're only ordering a paid copy of your credit report here and there, it really shouldn't end up breaking the bank.

Keep tabs on your credit

Consumers have been urged to keep a close eye on their credit due to pandemic-related fraud. It pays to remain vigilant, even if pandemic aid is coming to an end.

Checking your credit report every few months is a simple way to make sure you haven't been victimized. And it can also serve as a good wakeup call to make changes in the way you're taking on and managing debt.

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