Americans Not Taking Advantage of Free Credit Reports

April 25, 2016, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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Even though many Americans understand the importance of good credit, most are not taking advantage of their free annual credit report, which is a key part of maintaining or improving credit.

According to Equifax’s 2016 Personal Solutions Group Financial Literacy Month Survey, 81% of Americans are aware they can get a free credit report every year, but more than 40% are not doing so. 16% have not checked their report within the past year, 14% have never checked their reports and 12% could not remember when they last accessed their report.

The survey also found that many do not understand how their credit worthiness is determined. For example, only 40% know that negative information stays on credit reports for seven years.

Respondents also seemed confused as to what qualifies as negative information. They were given a number of accurate and inaccurate statements and were asked to say whether those things affected credit. Respondents were able to identify that these were accurate statements:

  • How much you owe on credit cards and other loans (83%)
  • Opening new credit accounts (68%)
  • Length of credit (64%)
  • Types of credit or loans (60%)

However, some believed these inaccurate statements were also true:

  • Being denied credit (56%)
  • Interest rate on credit cards or other loans (30%)
  • Checking your credit report (30%)

Unfortunately, poor credit is holding many Americans back. The respondents said bad credit has prevented them from getting a lower interest rate on a loan (19%), renting an apartment (7%), turning on utilities (5%) or getting a job (4%).

There is some good news. While consumers are not necessarily reviewing their full credit report, many are monitoring their score. Only 27% said they do not check their score. For those that do:

  • 32% receive it for free from a third-party website
  • 25% get it from their credit card company and 14% get their score from their bank
  • 4% pay for their score from a credit bureau and 3% pay a third-party website
  • 1% used some other source

Atlanta-based Equifax surveyed 1,008 consumers earlier this month.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 25, 2016. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.