Whether it be in the summer, spring, winter, fall, or even on your birthday you should definitely be checking your credit score every year. Like an annual fitness evaluation, an annual financial evaluation can help identify potential problems early and avoid big problems later. If you are not sure what this entire "annual credit report" discussion is about you are in the right place. You should start by reading about How to Get Your Credit Report. Now that you know how to get it, here's what you should be doing with it annually.
1. Errors are common.
According to a study done by the Federal Trade Commission, nearly one in four people said they found errors on their credit reports that may have an impact on their score. Your credit score is the three-digit number that indicates your borrowing risk. While checking this number regularly will tell you when your credit has changed, it will not tell you why. By reviewing your credit report you can identify those errors that may be effecting your overall rating.
Correcting an error on your report can take weeks if not months to resolve. Upon reviewing your report, if you do find any inaccurate information, take the initiative to correct errors right away.
2. You are not alone.
You may be careful and cautious about how you handle and care for your credit. However, if you have ever been asked and agreed to helping someone else who was not in such a favorable position by co-signing you are essentially sharing the responsibility of the debt with them. As the co-signer, you may not receive monthly statements or even alerts when payments are late or missed. However, these items can still impact your credit just as they will the person you co-signed for.
Often times people don't even realize they are hurting someone else's credit when they fall behind. Medical bills that should have been paid by your insurance company or other bills that you may have been expecting a bookkeeper to make are also legitimate examples of potentially missed payments that you may not even be aware of Learning about these incidents through your credit report is not ideal. Nevertheless, it is better to know sooner than later.
3. Protect your identity.
Upon reviewing your credit report, you may notice an account that is not familiar to you or an inquiry that you do not recall. If someone has fraudulently attempted to use your personal information to make purchases or apply for credit your identity has been compromised! Unfortunately, you may not realize it until you take the time to look closely at your credit report. These transactions can range in size and scale and some can be very small. Others can be quite large and, if gone undetected, can have disastrous effects on your credit.
An Identity Theft Report should be filed immediately if you notice any of the issues mentioned above. Also a fraud alert or a freeze can prevent further injury to your credit. There is no charge for fraud alert and it compels the issuer of any credit to contact you personally to confirm your identity prior to extending credit.
4. Take it to the BANK!
Having LuxuriousCREDIT™ is more than just a status symbol or an elitist circle. With a favorable credit rating you are liable to save thousands of dollars in interest payments in your lifetime. Think of your annual credit "Check-Up" as your due diligence. Being happy with your credit score is good. Being proactive about keeping it that way is even better. You are taking responsibility for your own future and success by ensuring that you have the freedom and flexibility to make whatever purchases you need or desire to make in the future. You also eliminate surprises at the point of sale.
If you have less than favorable credit currently, taking the time to study your credit report can help you to understand why. Always look carefully for errors and inaccuracies first. Then search for negative patterns that you may need to change or begin to work on. Awareness and acceptance is the first step towards progress.