Credit Bureaus Currently Offering Weekly Online Report Checks
With the COVID-19 pandemic not only taking a toll on the health of citizens but also on their finances, this week it was announced that Americans will have greater access to their credit reports for at least the next year. From now through April 2021, consumers will be able to obtain their official credit reports from all three major bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — once per week. Prior to this, free reports were limited to one per bureau per year. Despite the altered timetable, these reports can still be obtained from AnnualCreditReport.com.
In order to view reports, users will first need to enter key information such as their Social Security, address, etc., as well as answer a series of questions to confirm their identity. Individuals will be able to request to see all three reports at once or obtain them individually. Notably, while consumers are entitled to view the data in their credit reports, they may encounter subsequent offers from the bureaus to sign-up for additional products and to view their current credit scores. When reviewing reports, it’s vital that users look for any inaccuracies, such as accounts they didn’t open, payments made that aren’t displaying, and more. Should such errors be found, each bureau has its own dispute system.
As part of a press release announcing the news, Equifax CEO Mark W. Begor, Experian CEO Brian Cassin, and TransUnion CEO Chris Cartwright explained their decision to expand the free credit report program, saying in a joint statement, “These are unprecedented times facing the world. People are feeling scared and uncertain about the future. To help play our part and reduce some of that anxiety, we are uniting as an industry to help people know the facts about their financial data. 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.”
Elsewhere in their release, the bureaus also advised that consumers who are currently unable to pay their bills should contact their lenders. With many institutions and companies currently offering various assistance programs, making arrangements with them ahead of time can help prevent negative remarks from reaching an individual’s credit report. On that note, the credit bureaus also said that they’ve been working with the Consumer Data Industry Association to provide guidance for creditors reporting during this crisis.
Obviously, given the massive number of unemployed Americans and financial issues facing many more, it’s likely that most are more concerned about their cash on hand than about their credit scores. However, the credit bureaus do make a good point, reminding consumers that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. With that in mind, this does seem like a nice gesture on their part — and one that many will hopefully make use of.