The answer might surprise you.
- Your credit report can give you a snapshot of your financial picture.
- It can also alert you to potential fraud.
- Consider checking your credit report once per quarter.
Now that a new year has officially kicked off, a lot of people are doing their best to uphold the financial resolutions they set at the end of December or beginning of January. And some of the items on your list may have included boosting your savings and eliminating the credit card debt you racked up during the holiday season.
But there’s another important financial item to add to your 2023 to-do list — checking your credit report. Credit reports are actually free on a weekly basis through the end of the year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to check yours every week.
A quarterly check-up will generally suffice
It’s important to check your credit report on a regular basis for a few reasons. First, your credit report paints a picture of your borrowing history. It shows you what accounts you have open, what your various loan and credit card balances entail, and how timely you’ve been with paying bills.
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That’s important information to have, because if you’re applying for a large loan, like a mortgage, you’ll want to make sure your credit report looks good. If you spot any red flags, you’ll want to address those before submitting that application.
Plus, it’s not a given that the information contained in your credit report will be 100% correct. Credit report mistakes are actually pretty common, and if yours has an error that paints you in an unfavorable light, it could make it difficult to qualify for a loan (or snag an affordable interest rate on one). So checking your credit report regularly will help you spot errors and have them fixed.
Finally, your credit report could alert you to fraud you’ve fallen victim to. Let’s say a criminal opens a new credit card in your name and starts racking up a balance on that account. You may not have a clue that’s happened. But if you check your credit report and notice an open account that’s unfamiliar to you, you’ll know to investigate — and flag that account as fraudulent.
But as essential as it is to check your credit report every so often, you generally don’t need to review it every week — even though you can do so for free this year. Rather, a quarterly check-up should be just fine.
Even if you’re following up on a credit report mistake you want corrected, chances are, that won’t happen from one week to the next. And so for the most part, checking your credit report every three months is a reasonable approach.
Will free weekly credit reports continue beyond 2023?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were entitled to a free copy of their credit report once a year from each of the three major bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Due to high levels of fraud that emerged during the pandemic, credit reports were made available for free on a weekly basis, and that provision has gotten extended several times over.
But even if 2023 is the last year you can check your credit report for free every week, doing so is probably overkill. So don’t sweat it if that benefit goes away in 2024.
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