Free credit reports extended until April 2022: here’s how to get yours
When the pandemic began, the three major credit bureaus allowed Americans to access their credit reports once a week for free until April 20, 2021, instead of the once-a-year access normally required by federal law.
Today these credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—announced an extension of this access until April 20, 2022.
The common hub of bureaus for free credit reports, AnnualCreditReport.com, generally allows consumers to access a free credit report from each bureau each year. The one-year weekly allowance extension gives consumers more time to take a closer look at their credit history at a time when they can struggle to pay their bills and when fraudsters target everything from credit checks. relaunch to unemployment benefits.
“For consumers, ensuring their credit stays in good standing during this difficult time goes beyond paying monthly mortgages, car loans, credit card bills and other financial obligations,” said Francis Creighton. , president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, in the offices press release. “Consumers need to have the tools they need to know their financial information.”
Why you should regularly check your credit report
Your credit report shows any credit cards or loans you have opened (such as car, student, or personal loans) along with the balances on those accounts. That you have a lot of debt or no debt at all, it’s important to keep an eye on this report because you need to prove good credit health if you want to access new credit – like buying a new car, buying a house, or moving to a new home. university – later.
Creditors report your payment status and balance to the credit bureaus on a monthly basis, but there is no set time frame for when this should happen in any given month. More frequent access to credit reports can be particularly useful for consumers participating in creditors’ temporary forbearance programs during the pandemic by allowing them to keep an almost real-time eye on whether debt is being properly reported.
The CARES law required many creditors to report accounts that are temporarily withheld as open rather than past due, including federally guaranteed mortgages and federal student loans. This important difference can help preserve credit scores as much as possible during the pandemic.
“During a time of generalized economic crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, increased accessibility to credit report information helps those in greatest difficulty,” says Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Nonprofit Credit Counseling. “Because special arrangements are made to help people keep their accounts on track, they can monitor how these accommodations are reported.”
Checking your credit report often helps you quickly identify potential fraud. Scammers did a quick job taking advantage of people during the pandemic: Identity theft reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more than doubled Between 2019 and 2020, credit card fraud, government document or benefits fraud, and leasing fraud are the most common types of identity theft.
How to access your free credit reports
To access your free credit reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You will need to answer a few questions to prove your identity in order to view your reports. If you are having difficulty accessing your report online, you can also request it by phone or post. You can choose to access your report for one of the three credit bureaus or all three at the same time.
These reports do not display a credit score but rather provide a full history your financial activities, including payment history and credit card, mortgage, and auto, personal or student loan balances.
When you access your report, make sure that all the information is correct. If you’ve paid at least the minimum on time each month, your accounts should be listed as in good standing. If you have overdue payments or a collection account, this will also be shown on your report.
If you see an error on your report, don’t wait to dispute it with the credit bureau. Start the process as soon as possible to verify the accounts in question. The FTC has a guide and sample letters To do that. You will also need to contact the creditor in question to correct your account status.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft after reviewing your reports, report it to identitytheft.gov.
Remember: each credit bureau may have different information about your financial history, so be sure to check each one for accuracy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.