The COVID-19 pandemic has likely had an impact on everything from your relationships to your eating habits. Your finances? Big time.
Getting behind on a bill or two can have a lasting effect on your credit score. In response, the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are continuing to offer free weekly credit reports through the end of December 2023.
As a rule, everyone can get a free credit report once per year, but during these uncertain times, it may be prudent to check your credit at least a few times this year. At the beginning of the pandemic, the three agencies announced they would make free weekly reports available. The program has been extended through the end of 2023.
To obtain your free reports, start at annualcreditreport.com.
Once you get there, you’ll notice a banner, front and center, telling you about the policy with a “request your free credit reports” button on it.
Hit the button and follow three more steps, fill out the form with your information, request which report(s) you want and then get and review your reports.
You will have to enter a fair amount of personal information, and you’ll have to answer some questions to help verify your identity — those can be tough, such as remembering your address from 10 years ago.
The whole process to get to your reports takes about five minutes.
What should you look for on your report? Here are a few basic things to keep your eyes on:
Personal information. Are the basics like your name, address and employer correct?
Accounts. Do you recognize the listed accounts? Unfamiliar accounts could be a sign that someone has stolen your identity.
Payment History. Are there delinquencies reported that are incorrect or unknown to you?
It’s important to note that your free credit reports do not give you your actual credit score. You can monitor your VantageScore credit scores on a variety of free platforms like the Experian app or Credit Sesame, but most lenders rely on your FICO score.
To see your FICO score, check with your current banks or credit cards.
Tyler Omoth is a former contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Deputy editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors updated this post.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.