Free, weekly credit report checks have been extended for consumers.
The change from a free, yearly check happened during the pandemic and after consumer pressure, it’s available indefinitely.
Why is checking your credit report so important?
Lisa Gill has done investigative research on credit reports for Consumer Reports.
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Gill explains when your heart is set on purchasing a home, a car, getting approved for an apartment, whatever, you don’t want to discover a surprise when you’re trying to sign on the dotted line.
There are three credit bureaus that compile all your data, like how often you pay your bills and what credit cards you have open.
Then, when a bank, landlord, potential employer or whomever requests your credit score, one of these credit bureaus generates it.
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“The real problem is that very often these reports have errors in them, and those errors can sometimes be so detrimental that they would negatively affect the score when the score is generated," Gill said.
She adds, “If something is not accurate, you want to address it immediately.”
Gill says Consumer Reports had about 5,000 people check their own reports, and hundreds of people found mistakes.
She says some were small like a wrong address, but Gill says dozens of the errors were egregious mistakes, ones that could have a negative impact on your score.
You can go to annualcreditreport.com to check your credit report.
If you spot an error, Gill says, based on her research, do not appeal to a credit bureau online, rather she says your best bet is to write an old-fashioned letter and send it with evidence by certified mail to create a paper trail.