The big three credit-reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are offering free weekly credit reports to all Americans for one year.
You can access your free report at any time by visiting the official website of the companies. We walk you through the process in “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”
In a joint statement issued April 20, the three companies said the move was a response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the financial hardship it is causing for millions of Americans:
“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.”
The agencies are encouraging consumers to review their credit reports frequently so they can better understand the type of information being reported about their payment behavior.
In addition, the agencies are urging people who fall into financial difficulty to seek help, saying:
“The single most important action for consumers who cannot pay their bills right now is to talk with their lenders to find out if they are offering any assistance.”
Credit reports versus credit scores
While your credit score is based on information in your credit reports, your score itself is not in your credit reports.
However, you can get your credit score for free as well if you know where to look, as we detail in “FICO Scores Are Changing: 7 Ways to Get Yours for Free.”
Understanding your credit score
Most people understand the importance of maintaining a high credit score. But not everyone realizes how widely their credit standing can impact their lives.
For example, having a poor credit score might prevent you from landing a job. As we have reported in “8 Types of Companies That Are Looking at Your Credit Report“:
“As part of a background check, employers can request a copy of your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows credit reporting companies to release your report for employment purposes.”
The employer has to request your permission to do the check, but your refusal could doom your chances of being hired.
On the other hand, many people mistakenly believe that some actions — such as checking your own score or failing to pay a fine — can ding your credit. For more about such myths, read “5 Things You Think Could Hurt Your Credit Score — but Don’t.”
For more about boosting your credit score — and keeping it high — check out “7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast.”
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