Financial Protection

No more weekly free credit reports?

Consumer alerts

credit-score-1840538086-andrey-popov-via-shutterstockThe big 3 credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are each required by law to provide a free credit report annually on request. During the pandemic, when their complaint levels skyrocketed, they pledged to offer free reports weekly until the end of 2022. Consumer Reports Magazine today quotes a press flack for the bureaus’ trade association:

“And even now as the pandemic continues, Justin Hakes, a spokesperson for the Consumer Data Industry Association, told Consumer Reports there has been no further announcement about extending the free weekly reports.”

I spoke with CR for the story and said “You should have the right to inspect [your credit report] for free at any time.”

Keep in mind that consumers are not the bureaus’ customers, we are their product. They sell our reports to banks, insurance companies, landlords,  employers and others without our permission. The reports and the credit scores derived from them contain mistakes that, according to record numbers of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a major study by CFPB, the big 3 consumer reporting agencies refuse to correct.

Because we are not their customers, we have a right to inspect and correct mistakes on our reports (for  free) to ensure that the reports they sell won’t cause us to be denied credit, employment or even a place to live.

But the bureaus have also developed a lucrative consumer marketing channel preying on consumers’ fears that their reports have mistakes that will lower their scores or that they’ll become victims of identity theft. We, and other leading groups such as the National Consumer Law Center, have long urged consumers not to purchase subscription credit monitoring plans from the Big 3. You don’t need it and, as NCLC explains, credit monitoring comes with the harm of denying you the right to take the credit bureau to court by requiring forced arbitration of disputes.

We recommend Do-It-Yourself free credit monitoring. At least until the end of the year (and we’re working to extend that date), you’ve got weekly free reports. Order as many as you need throughout the year. Through 2026, you’ll have the right to seven  Equifax reports annually, under the terms of their data breach settlement, and at least one each from TransUnion and Experian. Stagger the nine requests throughout the year for DIY credit monitoring.  Learn more about free credit reports on this FTC page.

PIRG is supporting a number of Congressional efforts to rein in the credit bureaus, including the Comprehensive CREDIT Act.

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