Can't think of a good reason to order a free (we repeat: free) copy of your credit report? No worries, we've got six.
Our world is filled with unsolved mysteries. What happened to Roanoke? Who built Stonehenge? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
But some information can be known and should be known. For example, the information in your credit report. And unlike those other mysteries, this one is pretty easy to solve.
“It is important to check your credit report from all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) at least once every 12 months,” urged Audrey Washington, founder and CEO of Fiercely Financial Coaching. “You can obtain a free copy of your credit history from AnnualCreditReport.com. This service was established by the federal government in response to identity theft.”
There are a few other ways to get your credit report, but it’s important to be careful that you aren’t scammed. And if you’re still not convinced, here are seven reasons you should check your credit report!
1. Because your credit score depends on it.
Your credit score is a three-digit number determined by the information in your credit report. That number is very important since it will determine if you can get a loan and more.
“Since everything from loan and credit card applications, interest rates, getting hired by a new employer, car and homeowner’s insurance premiums, apartment applications, utility deposits, and cell phone plan services are based to one extent or another on your credit rating, and since your credit rating is based 100 percent. on the information on your credit report, you want to make sure that the information on your credit report is both accurate and up-to-date,” advised Todd Christensen, education manager for Money Fit by DRS, Inc..
2. To correct errors.
You know what would be really unfair? If the three major credit bureaus, who will track your credit-worthiness whether you ask them to or not, made frequent errors when compiling your credit report. Sadly, this unfair scenario we’ve just described is also our reality! That’s why it’s important to check your credit report for errors.
“The last thing you want on your credit score is an error that goes unnoticed,” advised Kelan Kline of The Savvy Couple. “It’s important to check often and keep track of your credit score to prevent your score from dropping.”
And what might those errors be?
“Your credit report helps you identify errors and/or outdated claims that negatively affect your credit score,” explained Jory McEachern, Operations Manager at ScoreShuttle. “Such errors can contain minor name spelling errors or major collections that you’ve already paid off in previous years.”
3. To spot identity theft.
Some errors on your credit report are actual errors. Other errors are due to stolen identities.
“The biggest concern when checking your credit report should be to ensure that no one is opening or using credit accounts in your name,” recommended Christensen. “Identity theft can cost thousands of dollars to correct and take a couple of years to work through, so the earlier you spot any such troubles, the better.”
And you may not be the only one at risk.
“Parents should also contact the three major credit bureaus on how they can check to see if anyone is using their children’s social security numbers for credit,” advised Washington.
4. You’re applying for a job.
A potential employer may perform a credit check on you, especially if the job you’re applying for is in the financial realm. You should know what’s on it before they do.
“If you are in the job market and you suspect your employer will be running a credit check, prepare by taking a look,” suggested Nathalie Noisette, owner of Credit Conversion.
“You want to preempt any possible reason the employer will deny you the job. Some employers will keep you in the candidate pool if your credit is not stellar, but you offer an explanation as to why your credit isn’t in great shape.”
5. You made or are making a big purchase.
It’s always good to know your financial situation when you’re making a big purchase, but it’s particularly important if you’re going to be making a purchase that could require interest payments.
“If you are considering a major purchase, you definitely want to check your credit report,” urged real estate professional Chantay Bridges. “Your score can affect your interest rate for a large number of years, especially on a purchase such as real estate or an automobile.
“You want to make certain everything is intact before you sign on the dotted line. In addition, you could be rejected based on something that’s there, so you want to have a chance to clear it up ahead of time, especially lates, tardies, or delinquents that are not yours.”
6. Because the possibility exists, so why not take advantage of it?
You get at least one free chance to check out your credit report each year. Why throw that away? And there are other services to consider as well.
“Many credit card companies, credit score apps, and websites offer free credit score monitoring so taking advantage of them is a no brainer,” Kline outlined. “Keeping an eye on your credit score not only protects you but ensures you are moving in the right direction with improving your overall credit score.”
Hopefully, that’s enough reasons to check your credit score. Still not convinced? Well then here’s one more: ‘Cause we think it’d be pretty cool.
Chantay Bridges is America’s leading mogul, who utilizes her gifts and abilities in outreach to her community and world around her. She is an exceptional Realtor, (translation: the one you want to hire), Author, Speaker and a keen philanthropist with a strong business acumen.
Author and Accredited Financial Counselor®, Todd R. Christensen, MIM, MA, is Education Manager at Money Fit by DRS, Inc. (@MoneyFitbyDRS), a nationwide nonprofit financial wellness and credit counseling agency. Todd develops educational programs and produces materials that teach personal financial skills and responsibilities to all ages. Having facilitated nearly two thousand workshops since 2004 on the fundamentals of effective money management, he based his first book, Everyday Money for Everyday People (2014), on the discussions, tips, stories and ideas shared by the tens of thousands of individuals and couples in attendance.
Kelan and Brittany Kline aka The Savvy Couple are two thriving millennials that are daring to live differently. They started their personal finance blog in September 2016 to help others get money $avvy so they can live a frugal and free lifestyle. Brittany is a full-time 4th-grade teacher and Kelan runs The Savvy Couple full-time and works as a digital marketer. You can follow them here: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
As a credit specialist at ScoreShuttle (@scoreshuttle), Jory McEachern helps individuals reach their ideal credit score so that they can qualify for all the important things in life. With ScoreShuttle’s online first-of-its-kind technology, members receive the most current updates and tips and advice on how to boost their score, fast.
Audrey Washington, Founder/CEO of Fiercely Financial Coaching (@FiercelyFinance) has been an entrepreneur since 2005 and is a personal finance coach, educator, and speaker. She is the author of the book Transform Your Money Mindset – Simple Steps for Financial Fitness. Her signature programs are Workplace Financial Fitness, financial education for employees; Financial Fitness Boot Camp; and Debt Free Boot Camp. She is also an affordable housing/community development consultant. She is a certified Financial Capability Coach, Homeownership Counselor, Homebuyer Educator, and Foreclosure/Default Counselor. Audrey teaches Personal Financial Management at Monroe College and is a Life Member of the National Council of Negro Women. She enjoys the beach, reading, baking and time with family and friends.
Andrew Tavin is a writer, comedian, and a full-time content manager for OppLoans. He graduated with a BFA in TV Writing from Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, worked as a writer for BrainPOP, and created a branded comedy video series for the National Retail Federation called “Interview Day.” He performs around the country and his writing has also appeared on Collegehumor, Funny or Die, and Sparklife.
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