Credit Bureaus Extend Weekly Free Credit Reports Offer for Another Year
Last April, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to shutdowns in many parts of the country, the three major credit bureaus in the United States announced that they’d begin allowing consumers to download their credit reports on a weekly basis at no cost. Now, that program is being extended for another year.
This week, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced that consumers will continue to have access to their credit reports once per week through April 20th, 2022. Under normal circumstances, these reports can only be requested for free once per year via the AnnualCreditReport.com website. The creation of that program was mandated under federal law, although the decision to provide weekly access was voluntary.
In order to request their free credit reports, consumers will need to provide their name, birth date, address, and Social Security number. Additionally, those who have been at their current residence for less than two years may be required to enter their former addresses as well. Typically, consumers will also be asked to answer a series of questions in order to confirm their identity. Obtained reports can then be viewed on the site or downloaded and saved in PDF format. It should be noted that, while consumers will be able to access their credit reports, additional services such as identity theft monitoring or viewing FICO scores may be offered for a fee.
As for what consumers should be looking for in their report, it’s important to confirm that all of the information is correct. If errors are discovered, each bureau maintains its own dispute process. Alternatively, consumers may wish to contact the reporting creditor to see if the issue can be resolved on their end.
In a joint statement regarding the extension of the free weekly credit report program, Equifax CEO Mark W. Begor, Experian CEO Brian Cassin, and TransUnion CEO Chris Cartwright said, “Access to financial information and records on a more frequent basis helps people plan for their future while also taking care of the present during these challenging times. We strive to make credit more accessible and available to people every day and we hope continuing to make free credit reports available each week is helpful to consumers.”
Additionally, Consumer Data Industry Association president and CEO Francis Creighton noted, “For consumers, 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 the tools they need to be knowledgeable about their financial information. The extension of free weekly credit reports is another way for people to regularly monitor their finances.”
While it may not be necessary for all consumers to check their reports on a weekly basis, having the ability to do so for at least another year is a good thing. That said, those who are not currently planning to apply for a new credit card, loan, or other types of credit might consider freezing their reports to help protect them from fraudulent accounts being opened in their names. Depending on the popularity of this weekly report program, it also wouldn’t be surprising if it becomes a permanent change. In any case, to access your free Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion reports, be sure to visit AnnualCreditReport.com.