Here’s what to know when this helpful option runs out.
- Credit reports have been made available for free on a weekly basis due to an increase in financial fraud during the pandemic.
- In April, these free weekly reports disappear, but that doesn’t mean consumers still can’t easily view them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a world of financial upheaval for many Americans. Between stimulus aid and relief programs, the potential for fraud has increased. Not only that, but incidents of real fraud increased, to the point that Americans had lost nearly $600 million to fraud by the end of 2021.
To give consumers better protection against fraud, credit reports have been prepared free of charge on a weekly basis. But in April, this advantage disappears. Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t have options for keeping tabs on your credit beyond April.
You can still access your credit report for free
Free credit reports are not a pandemic benefit. Free weekly the reports are, but even before the health crisis hit, consumers could check their credit report without having to pay. And once those free weekly reports are taken off the table, you’ll still be entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from every major research bureau – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
In other words, if you want to keep an eye on your credit report, you always have the option of accessing a credit report every four months without having to pay. And for most, that should be enough.
It’s a good idea to check your credit report every few months to make sure you don’t spot any fraudulent activity, such as an open credit card account that you don’t recognize. It’s also a good idea to take a look at your personal credit mix, as well as your various credit card balances.
Seeing this information mapped out for you could light a light bulb in your head to, for example, reduce some of your credit card debt if it’s high or delay applying for a new credit card if you’ve recently opened multiple accounts. . It might also encourage you to keep a long-standing credit card account open if you find that your remaining accounts are much newer, as the length of your credit history can affect your credit score.
But usually you don’t have to check your credit report every week, so losing free weekly reports isn’t such a big deal.
You should also know that even if you end up having to pay to access your credit report, the law cannot charge you more than $13.50 per report. Now obviously, paying nothing is better than having to pay a fee. But if you just order a paid copy of your credit report here and there, it really shouldn’t cost you much.
Keep an eye on your credit
Consumers have been urged to watch their credit closely due to pandemic-related fraud. It pays to remain vigilant, even as pandemic relief draws to a close.
Checking your credit report every few months is an easy way to make sure you haven’t been victimized. And it can also serve as a good wake-up call to make changes in the way you take on and manage debt.
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