Take advantage of free credit reports

Article written by Mary Metten, Health and Well-being Extension Educator. 
Originally published in the Kenosha News.

Incorrect information on credit reports is among top consumer complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In Wisconsin in 2020, almost 1,200 individuals filed a complaint about credit reporting with the CFPB. The top complaint involved incorrect information on reports, followed by problems with a credit reporting company’s investigation into a problem.

“Sometimes incorrect information is a simple data entry error, and other times, it could be a sign of fraud,” says Peggy Olive, UW-Madison Financial Capability Specialist. “It is up to each individual to look over his or her own credit report for old information that should be removed, common mistakes, or signs of identity theft. Better to discover an error yourself than to have a creditor find it first.”

Credit reports can affect obtaining an affordable loan, insurance policy, or even getting a job. Because credit reports are so important, federal law gives everyone the right to request free reports annually.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have been able to order a free credit report weekly. This will continue through April 2021; then returning to a total of three per year.

Free credit reports

You can request the reports at the official website AnnualCreditReport.com, through the mail using the request form on their site, or by calling 877-322-8228.

The “Check Your Free Credit Report: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10” campaign from the UW-Madison Division of Extension helps you remember to check them regularly.

Anyone can sign up to receive the reminders on 2/2, 6/6, and 10/10—at fyi.extension.wisc.edu/creditreport. More than 1,300 Wisconsinites from 71 counties have already signed up. This will be helpful after the ability to order credit reports weekly ends after April.

University of Wisconsin-Madison      |        Explore Extension: Agriculture Community Development Families & Finances Health Natural Resources Youth