A few years ago, it became possible for consumers to get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get one free report each year from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
One way to maximize your access to your credit reports is to obtain one credit report from one of the credit bureaus every four months. That works out to three reports per year, so one report per credit bureau. But spreading out your requests throughout the year makes it easier to catch something hinky sooner rather than later.
I failed to take my own advice and it had been a couple of years since my husband and I had checked our credit reports. I'd forgotten how easy it is to do, and they've made it easier to understand each section. I was also able to print the report as well as download a digital copy.
Now I'm setting up email reminders in my Google Calendar to remember to request a copy of our credit reports every four months. The credit bureaus vary slightly in their reporting. And since we have combined finances, I've decided to request reports from different bureaus for myself and my husband each time, which should further maximize our chances of catching anything untoward.
One good thing we did a couple of years ago was add an inexpensive rider to our homeowner's insurance policy - for $25 per year, we get Identity Restoration services. So when we had a question about something on one of our credit reports, we just called our insurance company and they're investigating it for us. Hopefully it'll turn out to be nothing, but I'm feeling the $25 per year is money well spent.
There are, of course, companies that will monitor credit activity for you. But it's easy to do yourself - just don't forget to set those reminders!