Before COVID-19, everyone was entitled to one free credit report a year according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. But because of the current financial distress companies and individuals are currently going through — like unemployment — the three biggest consumer credit reporting agencies are offering free reports a lot more often.

With the coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainties that come with it, you may want to take advantage.

 

Get a free credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion every week through April 2021.

Credit scores, which are used by lenders to determine your ability to receive a loan or lower interest rate, are based on the information in your credit report. Not checking your report for errors could literally cost you tens of thousands of dollars in your lifetime. That’s why it’s essential to check for inaccuracies and errors regularly — especially if you’ve recently had to skip a payment during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Get your free reports on AnnualCreditReport.com.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the same trusted site you’d go to to get your free annual report, and you’ll also have to go there to get your free weekly Experian, Exquifax, and TransUnion reports.

The process involves verifying your identity by filling out your name, Social Security Number, and current address on a form. You’ll be able to review one or all three credit bureaus’ reports once you’ve been verified — just remember to save your report as a PDF or print it out before leaving the site since you won’t have access to it again for another week.

These free credit reports won’t show an actual credit score, only the info used to calculate your score.

 

What should you look for on your credit report?

Errors on accounts that have skipped payments.

According to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, how creditors report your account to credit reporting agencies depends on whether you were current or already delinquent when the agreement to skip a payment was made.

If you had a current account and requested to skip a payment between January 31, 2020 and 120 days after March 27, 2020 (or 120 days after the COVID-19 national emergency ends), your account should still show as current as long as you’re meeting the terms of your partial payment, skipped payment, or other accommodation.

If you see that your account is delinquent, contact your lender and check ConsumerFinance.gov for more information on your account status.

RELATED: Coronavirus Credit Card Debt Relief: What You Need to Know

 

Changed credit limits on credit cards.

Did you know since COVID-19, banks are changing consumers’ credit limits and closing accounts — often before cardholders even know about it?

According to CompareCards.com, nearly 50 million cardholders have had their credit limits reduced or closed. Credit card issuers like Discover, Citi, Synchrony Bank, and more have been doing this to reduce their risk during the current financial crisis. Credit card companies have to notify their customers within 45 days of any changes, but they don’t have to tell you when limits change.

Checking your report or card statement for limit changes is key, and like errors on your credit report, a reduction in credit limits or closed credit accounts can also negatively affect your credit.

 

 

Unknown additional addresses, accounts, and lines of credit.

Look for unfamiliar and unauthorized inquiries, lines of credit, and addresses. These could be signs of identity theft or simply errors that can easily be fixed. Dispute an error ASAP.

 

Bonus Tip: Now that you’ve checked your credit score, time to build it up!

If you’re unhappy with your credit score, now’s a good time to start slowly rebuilding your credit.

Self is a company offering small Credit Builder Loans for people who have bad credit and aren’t able to qualify for a credit card to rebuild credit. It’s also for people who are just starting out building credit and don’t want to open a credit card yet.

Basically, if your credit score is low, Self is a good option for you. They don’t turn anyone down for the loan because of their credit history, or lack thereof.*

 

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*DISCLAIMER: All Credit Builder Accounts made by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, Sunrise Banks, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Subject to ID Verification. Individual borrowers must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security Number are required. All loans are subject to ID verification and consumer report review and approval. Results are not guaranteed. Improvement in your credit score is dependent on your specific situation and financial behavior. Failure to make monthly minimum payments by the payment due date each month may result in delinquent payment reporting to credit bureaus which may negatively impact your credit score. This product will not remove negative credit history from your credit report. All loans subject to approval. All Certificates of Deposit (CD) are deposited in Lead Banks, Member FDIC, Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC or Atlantic Capital Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.

The Self Visa Credit Card is issued by Lead Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender

** DISCLAIMER: Sample product: $25 month payment, 24 month term with a $9 admin fee at a 15.92% Annual Percentage Rate. Sample product: $48 month payment, 12 month term with a $15 admin fee at a 15.65% Annual Percentage Rate. Please refer to www.self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options.