Get your free weekly credit reports through April 2021

Mar 1, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

You may already know that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law, requires free credit reports from all three consumer credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — once every 12 months to those who request it. The website annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized site to provide these reports as part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three credit reporting companies have increased the frequency in which you may review your reports: you can access them weekly until April, either by requesting online, phone or via mail.

Want more credit card news and advice from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter!

In This Post

Why you should check your credit report more often

Scams and identity theft are on the rise, with fraudsters using virus-related fears to access personal and financial information. The FCC has identified a number of scams, including scams using robocalls, COVID-19 texts, package delivery notifications, contact tracing requests and mobile payment apps.

(Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

With COVID-19 text message scams, for instance, scammers send text messages offering cures, warnings about the need for a test, financial relief or “special offers.” These scams might link to fraudulent websites that request identifying information, like your date of birth, Social Security number and a debit or credit card number to “verify your identity.”

As these websites can often mimic legitimate sites, you may not be aware that you’ve been victimized. So checking your credit report can help you spot identity theft or credit card fraud on your accounts.

Related: 5 simple steps to avoid credit card fraud

Steps to access your reports

(Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

You can check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. There’s a banner at the top of the site highlighting the free weekly reports due to COVID-19. Click the button to “Request your free credit reports” and begin the three-step process. You’ll complete a form asking for your name, birthday, Social Security number, current address and previous address (if you’ve lived at your current address for less than two years). Your address must be within the U.S. as the site only provides credit information for U.S. credit files.

Next, you’ll be asked to select which agency’s report you would like to access: Experian, Equifax and/or TransUnion. You can select just one, pick two or select all three. As you can access them all weekly, there is really no reason not to pick all three. When the reports go back to every 12 months, you may want to pick one, wait a few months to check the second, then another few months for the third. This allows you to look for changes or suspicious activity throughout the year.

You’ll then be asked multiple-choice questions to confirm your identity. After you’ve answered the questions, you’ll be able to access each report. If you want to keep your reports, you’ll need to download them to save and/or print while on the page, as you won’t be able to go back once you leave the page.

When you’re finished reviewing the first report, you’ll click at the top to get your next report or exit out. You’ll see a new set of multiple-choice questions to confirm your identity to access the next report. And you’ll repeat that process once more for the third report.

If you can’t access a report online, you’ll need to call (877) 322-8228 and request the report by phone or you can download a form to mail in your request.

Related: How credit scores work

What to do if there’s an issue or error

Once you’ve accessed your credit reports, you should make sure the accounts listed are ones you’ve created. Be sure that you recognize all of the information, including your personally identifiable information, such as names and addresses. Then check that the other information on your credit report is accurate and complete.

(Photo by gruizza / Getty Images)

If there is any inaccurate information, you can file a dispute. Inaccurate information may not necessarily be suspicious or fraudulent, but it can potentially affect your ability to open new accounts. If you’re applying for some of the latest credit card sign-up bonuses and your credit reports incorrectly show late payments or accounts that don’t belong to you, this could impact your credit score and cause you to be denied new credit.

And if you think you may be a victim of identity theft, then request a fraud alert from each of the three bureaus. You may also want to file a report with law enforcement.

Related: 6 things to do to improve your credit in 2021

How to use your credit info to check your 5/24 status

In addition to checking your credit reports for fraudulent activity, the information in your credit reports can also help you determine your 5/24 status. If you’re looking to add new credit cards from Chase to your wallet, you’ll need to be sure that you’re under 5/24. This means you haven’t opened more than five new accounts in 24 months. Your reports will include the dates the accounts were opened.

Related: Loyalty fraud is on the rise — here’s what happens when your points are stolen

Other ways to protect yourself from fraud

Checking your credit report is just one way to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft. You may also want to set up email, text or push notification account alerts for your credit cards if you haven’t already done so.

Make sure the banks have your current contact information on file, so they can reach you quickly if they notice suspicious account activity.

According to Citi, when they reach out to verify suspicious activity, they do not ask for any of the following:

  • Your account number
  • Existing security word (i.e., mother’s maiden name)
  • PIN number
  • Online User ID or online password
  • Checking account information (from your account payment history)
  • One–time passcode

So if someone is asking for this information, it’s a red flag. You’ll want to call the number on the back of your card if you want to verify the communication is legitimate.

Bottom line

If you haven’t been accessing your free credit reports regularly, now is a good time to begin. You may not feel that weekly is most useful for your personal situation, but even just a monthly check will help you ensure your information is accurate and up-to-date with the credit bureaus.

Featured photo by i_frontier / Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.