If you’re like most, you probably worry a lot about your credit score.

Checking your credit score is important, as it can reveal irregularities, errors or evidence of identity theft. Keeping track of your credit score is a high priority – but how often should you check it?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says once a year, but additional checks are recommended under certain circumstances. These moments arise when you make a big purchase, get hired on to a new job, or when you attempt to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Annual checkups allow consumers to review a comprehensive report about their credit, giving them the ability to catch mistakes or other errors that may harm their credit standing. Once incorrect information is found, consumers can file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Errors must be corrected if found valid.

The good news about checking your credit score is that it’s easy and free. Consumers are allotted one credit report each year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Some services through credit card companies provide weekly or monthly credit updates, as well, that keep consumers informed about where they stand.

More good news is that checking your credit yourself will not hurt your score, but having a lender check can result in a decreased ranking. The reason why a self-check doesn’t lead to a lower score is because it’s considered a soft inquiry. On the other hand, a lender’s review of your credit is a hard inquiry and can lead to credit score consequences.

As you can see, consumers have full control. While annual checks are recommended, those who are extra cautious can take advantage of online tools and credit services to keep a closer tab on their credit.

Remember, being proactive means being protective.