Man holding his credit card

Free Credit Reports: Here’s How to Receive Yours

The pandemic began in the United States; the three major credit bureaus permitted Americans to view their free report on annual credit every week until the 20th of April 2022, instead of the yearly access typically required under federal law.

Today, the three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion–have announced the extension of this access until April 20th, 2022.

The bureaus’ joint hub for free weekly credit reports, AnnualCreditReport.com, typically allows consumers to access one free copy of the annual credit report from each bureau.

In addition, extending the weekly allowance by one year gives customers more time to keep a close check on their credit reports in a period when they might be struggling to pay their debts and when fraudsters are taking advantage of everything from stimulus checks and unemployment checks.

“For consumers, making sure that credit remains in good standing through this difficult time is more than paying auto loans, mortgages, credit card debts as well as other obligations every month,” said Francis Creighton, the president and CEO of Consumer Data Industry Association, in the bureau’s press announcement. “Consumers need to have the tools to know about their financial data.”

Why you should check your Credit Report Regularly

Your credit report reveals the number of credit cards or loans you’ve got open (like student, car, or private loans) and the balance of these credit accounts.

No matter if you’re in the middle of debt, or none whatsoever, it’s vital to keep track of the report as you’ll prove your credit standing if you wish to get credit in the future, such as to purchase a new car, purchase an apartment or go to college down the road.

Creditors report your status and the amount of your balance to credit bureaus each month, and there’s no specific time frame for when this needs to be done in any given month.

Access to more frequently updated credit reports can be particularly beneficial for those who are participating in the temporary forbearance programs provided by the creditors during the pandemic in that it lets them keep track of in real-time the status of their debt and whether it’s appropriately reported.

CARES Act

Many creditors, such as federally-backed mortgages and federal student loans, were compelled under the CARES Act to list accounts in temporary forbearance as current rather than past due. This is a crucial change that will help preserve credit scores as long as possible during the pandemic.

“During an era of massive economic turmoil, such as the Covid-19 epidemic, greater access to information about credit reports assists those who struggle hardest,” says Bruce McClary.

He is the senior vice president of communications for the non-profit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “As specific arrangements are created to assist people in keeping their accounts on track and be aware of how these arrangements are disclosed.”

A regular check of your credit report will quickly help you identify possible frauds. The criminals have been swift to profit from victims of the epidemic of identity theft: words for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nearly doubled between the years 2019 and 2020. And fraudulent use of credit card documents issued by the government or benefits fraud, as well as loan/lease fraud the most common types of identity theft.

What is the best way to Get Your Free Credit Report?

To access the offer of free credit reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll have to answer a few questions to verify your identity before you can view your reports.

Your credit score is not included in your free annual credit report, but you may access it from a variety of places. These free annual credit reports are available online, via phone, or by mail.

If you’re having difficulty getting your credit report on the internet, you may request it over the telephone or by mail. You can get your report from one of the credit bureaus or all three simultaneously.

These reports don’t reveal an individual credit score. Still, they offer complete account information on your financial activity. This includes payment history and the balances of mortgages, credit cards, personal, car, and student loans.

When you open your account, Ensure that all the data is accurate. Your account should be on the list as satisfactory if you’ve paid the minimum each month. If you have a past-due balance or a collection account, they will note it on your account report.

Learn more about how to deal with mistakes on your Credit Report

If you spot an error in your report, Do not hesitate to dispute the information to the credit bureau. Start as soon as possible to verify the accounts in dispute.

The FTC provides a manual and sample letters to help you do this. You’ll also have to call the person responsible for your account to rectify your account’s status.

Be aware that each credit bureau might contain different information regarding your financial background. So, make sure you review each one for the accuracy of their data.

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