Thehas and, to make matters worse, scammers are during the crisis. As thieves look to take hold of , AnnualCreditReport.com is offering free weekly reports to help consumers monitor their credit.
The credit report site is sponsored by the three credit bureaus -- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian -- and lets individuals get their reports from all three companies at once. All three normally provide one report per year, but as of Monday, AnnualCreditReport.com says the reports are now available weekly.
"During these times of COVID-19, accessing your credit is important," the site message says. "That's why Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are now offering free weekly online reports through April 2021."
Reviewing and understanding your credit report is a key part of being financially responsible. Credit reports show, in detail, all credit usage, payment activity related to an individual and court actions taken based on those accounts. When you look at your report, the activity should look familiar. If it doesn't, the potentially nefarious activity should be investigated further. Wrong information or fraudulent accounts not only impact you immediately, but there are long-term effects to be aware of as well.
"Your credit rating means more than whether or not you are able to open a credit card," said Monica Dwyer, a vice president and wealth adviser for Harvest Financial Advisors. "It can sometimes determine whether or not you get a good or a great interest rate on your next home or car purchase -- or whether you can get the loan at all. If you rent, it can be the deciding factor on whether you can even rent or not."
Credit activity also has a direct impact on your. For instance, late payments and high credit usage will lower your score, making it more difficult to open lines of credit -- including products like -- in the future.
To access the free weekly reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com and begin the process of requesting your reports. You'll be asked for your personal information and then get linked to the three bureaus' websites where there will be a series of questions to verify your identity. Once you've proven who you are, that agency's report on you will be available for review. Verify all the information is correct and download a copy for your records.
If, after reviewing your credit, all three are accurate, then congratulations: You haven't been a victim of identity theft. On the other hand, any fraudulent accounts or incorrect info should be taken up with the specific bureau that provided that report. Also, keep in mind, this is for a credit report and not a. Those can be obtained by the credit reporting agencies via their respective monitoring services.
Also note that reviewing your credit report is different from credit monitoring, which proactively monitors your credit (among other things) and alerts you when activity is detected. If you're looking for hands-off, proactive protection of your credit and identity,.