Consumers have access to a free annual credit report from each of Equifax, Transunion, and Experian thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act passed in 2003. However, this may be too infrequent to keep adequate tabs on one's identity in light of the frequency and severity of major data breaches. What prevents access to one's own identity data on a continuous basis? Is it simply that the bureaus choose to rise only to the bare minimum required by law? Or are there more reasonable explanations?
The credit agencies have zero interest to give you (or anyone else) a free credit report; their business is based on selling this information.
Left alone, they wouldn't give you the time of day for free.
Because there is a law, they are forced to let you pull a report once a year, so they do. Anything more would cut into their income, so they will not offer it until required by a stricter law.
I can't speculate on why the law was written that way but the credit agencies benefit significantly from following the minimum of this law. A major part of their business is selling access to ones credit report. If it were free they would lose this substantial income stream
My understanding is the once a year is a compromise between their financial interest in selling access to credit histories and the consumers right to protect their identity.
The situation has changed since 2003. The free yearly report was a big step forward and did what it was supposed to do. Now of course more people are concerned about fraud and identity theft, but back in 2003 the issue was errors.
Now several of my credit cards offer free monthly credit score updates, which can serve as an initial signal of a potential issue.
It would take a big push to move to more frequent free reports.