Credit Bureaus Reverse Decision, Make Credit Reports Free Through 2023

·2 min read

The change comes after Consumer Reports pushed for the service to continue

By Lisa L. Gill

The three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—agreed to extend weekly, free credit reports through 2023, according to a joint announcement today from the companies. The step comes a week after Consumer Reports urged the credit bureaus to extend that benefit indefinitely. You can get reports from all three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that people be given free access to their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus just once a year. But once the pandemic began, companies offered the annual service for free on a weekly basis instead.

“It’s great news for consumers,” says Syed Ejaz, policy analyst for CR who works on financial fairness issues. But, he says, the industry can do more to help people, especially during uncertain economic times. “Consumers should be able to check their credit reports at no charge as often as they want, and for as long as they want, so they can easily check for credit-damaging errors.”

The Consumer Data Industry Association did not immediately respond to CR’s request for comment.

Credit Report Errors Set to Break Record

Credit reports have long been plagued by high error rates—accounts that have been paid off but are still shown as open or items reported as being in collections that aren’t. In fact, between 2018 and 2021, the number of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency that monitors the credit reporting industry, more than doubled.

So far in 2022, mistakes on credit reports are the No. 1 consumer complaint.

Last year, CR asked a panel of nearly 6,000 volunteers to review their credit reports for mistakes. In almost a third of cases, participants found at least one error.

And in a January 2021 CR nationally representative survey (PDF) of 2,223 adults, 12 percent of people who had ever checked their credit report said they found at least one mistake.

“No one should lose out on opportunities like an apartment or job or pay a higher interest rate on a loan because of an error on their credit report,” says Ejaz. “The credit bureaus need to ensure credit reports are accurate so that everyone stands a better chance of accessing affordable credit and building a financially stable life and secure future.”

Read more on how to dispute and correct credit report errors.



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