Free Credit Reports Extended Until April 2022
When the pandemic hit, the three main credit agencies agreed to provide Americans free access to their credit records once a week until April 20, 2021, rather than the once-a-year access mandated by federal law.
3 bureau online credit report: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three credit bureaus, have announced an extend of such access until April 20, 2022.
AnnualCreditReport.com, the agencies’ joint portal for free credit reports, generally allows users to get one free credit report from each bureau each year.
The one-year extension of the weekly allowance offers customers more time to monitor their credit history at a time when they may be struggling to pay their bills and fraudsters are preying on anything from stimulus cheques to unemployment assistance.
In a statement released by the bureaus, Francis Creighton, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, said, “Ensuring that one’s credit remains in good standing during this challenging time goes beyond paying mortgages, auto loans, credit card bills, and other financial obligations each month.” “Consumers should have access to the tools they need to understand their financial data.”
Why You Should Check Your Credit Report Regularly
Any credit cards or loans you have open (such as auto, student, or personal loans) are included on your credit report, along with their balances.
Whether you have a lot of debt or none at all, it’s critical to keep an eye on this report since you’ll need to demonstrate excellent credit health if you wish to get additional credit in the future, such as to purchase a new car, a home, or go to college.
Creditors record your payment history and amount to credit agencies on a regular basis, but there is no defined schedule for when this must occur.
More frequent access to credit reports can be especially beneficial for customers engaging in creditors’ temporary forbearance programs during the epidemic, since it allows them to monitor debt reporting in near-real time.
Many creditors, including federally backed mortgages and federal student loans, were obliged under the CARES Act to record accounts in temporary forbearance as current rather than past due. This significant distinction may aid in the preservation of credit ratings as much as possible throughout the epidemic.
“During a broad economic crisis like the Covid-19 epidemic, improved access to credit report information benefits people who are hurting the most,” says Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications at the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
“As extra arrangements are made to assist people in staying on track with their accounts, they may keep track of how such accommodations are reported.”
Checking your credit report on a regular basis might help you spot potential fraud early. During the epidemic, con artists made fast work of exploiting people: Between 2019 and 2020, the number of identity theft reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more than quadrupled, with credit card fraud, government papers or benefits fraud, and loan/lease fraud being the most common types of identity theft.
How to Access Your Free Credit Reports
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit reports. To view your reports, you’ll need to answer some questions to verify your identity. You may also obtain your report by phone or mail if you have trouble viewing it online. You may access your credit report from each of the three credit agencies individually or all three at once.
These reports don’t provide you a credit score; instead, they give you a detailed account of your financial activity, including payment history and balances for credit cards, mortgages, and auto, personal, or student loans.
Make sure all of the information in your report is correct when you view it. Your accounts should be reported as being in good standing if you’ve paid at least the minimum each month on time. Your report will also show if you have any past-due payments or a collection account.
If you see a mistake on your report, contact the credit bureau right once to file a dispute. Begin the process of verifying the accounts in question as soon as possible. For this, the FTC offers a guidance and sample letters. To change your account status, you’ll also need to contact the creditor in question.
After examining your reports, if you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft, report it at identitytheft.gov.
Remember that each credit agency may have different information regarding your credit history, so double-check each one.