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Editor's Note: This post was updated to reflect the extension of free credit report access from April 2021 to April 20, 2022.
Checking your credit report on a regular basis is a simple way to be proactive about your financial standing — and it just got easier.
The three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — are offering free credit reports to all Americans on a weekly basis so you can protect your financial health during hardships from the coronavirus. These free credit reports will be available on AnnualCreditReport.com through April 20, 2022.
"We are making credit reports more accessible more often so people can better manage their finances and take necessary steps to protect their credit standing," Mark W. Begor, CEO at Equifax; Brian Cassin, CEO at Experian; and Chris Cartwright, CEO at TransUnion, said in a joint statement.
Previously, you were entitled to one free credit report from each bureau per year, but that's been substantially increased to as many as 156 over the next 12 months, if you so choose.
Below, we list how you can get free credit reports from each bureau and what to look for when reviewing your credit.
To get your free credit reports from each bureau, follow these steps:
- Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Click on "Request your free credit reports."
- Fill out one form to request up to three copies of your credit report.
- Choose which reports you want (Experian, Equifax and/or TransUnion).
- Answer several questions to verify you're the correct person to be accessing your report (and not a fraudster), then submit your request (you'll need to do step this for each credit report).
- Review your report(s).
Your free annual credit report includes all accounts opened under your name as well as the actions you have taken, such as balances and payment history. However, it doesn't include your credit score. If you want access to your free credit score, consider alternative services provided by credit card issuers.
For instance, if you have a Citi card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card, you receive your free FICO score updated about every month. You can also consider CreditWise from Capital One and Chase's Credit Journey that don't require you to be a cardholder.
Monitoring your credit report is even more important during uncertain economic times since fraudsters like to take advantage of these situations.
You should keep an eye out for common credit report errors and signs of fraud when checking your credit report, such as:
- New accounts that you didn't open
- Identity errors (wrong name, phone number or address)
- Incorrect reporting of account status (late payments when you've paid on time, closed accounts reported as open or being listed as the owner of an account when you're just an authorized user)
- Data management errors (reinsertion of incorrect information after it was corrected)
- Balance errors (incorrect current balance or credit limit)
If you notice any errors, dispute them as soon as possible. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to dispute a credit report error.