When the dentist asks if you’ve been flossing, do they honestly expect you to answer yes? Or, how often do you check your tire pressure?
You’re supposed to check it fairly often, but realistically, do we? The same goes with regularly testing your smoke detectors. I have a smoke detector in my apartment, but off the top of my head, I probably couldn’t tell you where it’s located.
Those are simple responsibilities that unfortunately go neglected all too often. And, by not addressing them for a long period of time, we can sometimes put ourselves in a bad spot.
You Should Absolutely Check Your Credit Report
I think we often view our credit report in the same vein as our tire pressure or smoke detectors. We think it’s not that important to check, when in reality, having good credit is critical to buying a home, as well as many other big-ticket purchases.
In today’s world, a credit report isn’t just used for getting a loan. Insurance companies use them to calculate the rates they’ll charge customers. And, employers use them to help determine if an employee is responsible. A lot rides on your credit history. And, it’s for this reason that it’s a good idea to review your credit report annually.
What to Look for When Reviewing Your Report
As it turns out, reviewing your credit report doesn’t involve glancing at your credit score. In fact, your credit score isn’t even on the actual report. When you look at your report, you’re looking at an itemized list of your loans, credit cards, etc., along with your payment history. If everything on your report is accurate, it should confirm that no fraud, identity theft or unexpected activity has taken place.
Your report also shows which companies have recently pulled your credit. Be sure to carefully review this list and check for any companies that you can’t easily explain a connection. For instance, some companies will pre-qualify you for special offers, and if they already have access to your information, they may pull your credit report prior to sending you a “special offer” in the mail. The offers are never all that special, are they?
By looking over the list of companies, you can spot potential instances of identity theft. For example, if Herbie’s Cars recently pulled your credit report and you’ve never been to Herbie’s, then you could possibly have an identity theft problem.
When looking at your payment history, keep in mind that companies can make mistakes. Even if you have a loan and pay it perfectly on time, companies can sometimes make an error on a payment posting date, which could incorrectly show an over 30-day late payment. If never corrected, it could continue to show a string of +30 day late payments, eventually resulting in an adverse impact to your credit score. If you think something is incorrect, you can file a dispute.
Where to Obtain a Free Credit Report
It’s much easier than you might expect. In fact, under federal law, you have the right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies once each year. So, you can get all three at one time, or you can space them out throughout the year. It’s your call.
To get your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com and select “Request Yours Now” from the navigation menu. To access your report, you will need to enter some information to verify your identity, like your address, date of birth, and social security number.
If you’re not all that tech savvy and you’d prefer to have your report mailed to you, there’s an option for that, too. To do so, you can call a toll-free number (1.877.322.8228) or mail a completed Annual Credit Report Request Form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
So, you might be thinking, “This is great! I’m going to go pull my credit report right now!” But, what about next year? Will you remember? Well, if you’d like a yearly reminder sent directly to your inbox, sign up here, and we will only email you when it’s time to check your credit report again. No “special offers” or spam emails. I promise.
Oh, and while you’re at it, you may want to check your tire pressure, too.
About the Author:
Travis Rollins is a credit analyst at Central National Bank. When he isn’t working, Travis enjoys camping and being outdoors. He also likes to travel, relax in his hammock, and hang out with friends and family.