(WTTV/WXIN) – Most consumers know that keeping track of their credit reports is crucially important to maintaining good financial health.

It’s now easier than ever to do that every week, free of charge.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, you could only get a couple of free credit reports a year.  Three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans-Union, were required by law to give everybody one free credit report every 12 months.

When COVID-19 really took hold and turned the economy upside down, the agencies announced they would temporarily offer free credit reports once a week. That program was extended twice. Now, the three agencies are making it a lifetime deal.

This is important because seeing a credit “report” is different than simply knowing a person’s credit “score.”

While a credit score can give a person a quick snapshot of their financial health, it tells very little of the whole story. Additionally, credit scores have been full of mistakes in recent years. Last year, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Americans have filed more than 800,000 complaints against the three national credit reporting agencies because of mistakes.

Those mistakes can hurt a person’s credit, which can increase how much interest they have to pay to borrow money or hurt their chances of getting a loan, or even a job. Mistakes can come from simple errors by a business or something worse like identity theft. Getting a person’s full report means they can review detailed information like how many credit card balances they have, how many late payments they have had and more. 

If a person sees something they know isn’t right, that’s when they can file their own complaint. If a person does spot an error, the credit bureau and the business that gave them the information are required by law to fix it for free.