How often can you check your credit reports?

Understand how often you should check your credit reports and why it’s important.

Whether you realize it or not, your credit reports contain a lot of details about your financial life. And when you apply for things like a credit card or a job, lenders and others may use that information to make decisions. So it’s important to make sure the information is correct. 

But credit reporting errors can happen, so it’s a good idea to regularly check your credit file. Getting into the habit of checking can help you act quickly if you find mistakes or you’re the victim of identity theft. Traditionally, you can check your credit reports at least once a year from the three major credit bureaus that compile them. But there are also ways to access your reports more frequently. Read on to learn more.

How many times a year should you check your credit reports?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends checking your credit reports at least once a year. The agency says it’s also a good idea to check your credit reports before taking out a loan, before applying for a new job, and to protect against identity theft. 

How to request your credit reports

You can request a free copy of your credit report from each major credit bureau—TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian®—once a year by phone, mail or online. You can find out more at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. And you can either check your credit reports from the three bureaus all at once or spread them out throughout the year. If you reach the limit, you can request additional reports, although you may have to pay for them. 

The CFPB says you’re entitled to free credit reports at other times too. These include the following:

  • If an “adverse action” is made against you because of information in your credit report, you’re entitled to request and receive a copy of that report. Keep in mind that you would need to make the request within 60 days of receiving the adverse action notice. An adverse decision could be a lender denying your credit application, an employer deciding not to hire you or an insurer deciding not to provide you with coverage. 
  • You believe your credit reports contain errors due to fraud, or you’ve requested one relating to a fraud alert placed on your credit file.
  • You’re unemployed and plan to apply for a job within the next 60 days.
  • You receive public welfare assistance.
  • Your state’s laws allow you to request a free credit report.

Why should you check your credit reports frequently?

Your credit reports are updated about once a month with data the credit bureaus have received. Credit reports may contain information about your credit card accounts, loans and credit applications you’ve submitted. 

If you find errors in your credit file, it could mean you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Any incorrect information may hurt your credit scores, which are calculated based on what’s in your credit report. And a lower credit score might make borrowing more expensive or prevent you from getting credit. If you find an error, you may want to dispute the information.

Start monitoring your credit for free today

It’s possible to check your credit reports more often. One way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise gives you free access to your TransUnion credit report as often as you log in to your CreditWise account. Plus, you can check your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score for free any time. 

And the CreditWise Simulator can give you an idea about how different financial decisions might affect your credit score. For instance, the tool may help simulate how your credit score might change if you pay off a credit card balance. Best of all, using CreditWise won’t hurt your credit score. That’s because it uses soft inquiries to monitor things. CreditWise is free for everyone, not just Capital One cardholders. 

You can sign up for CreditWise today to keep a closer eye on your credit report and score.

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