You should know your credit report like the back of your hand. The information in your report determines not only your credit score but your ability to take out loans and credit cards. It even affects your chances of getting a new job or signing a lease on a rental property. It’s recommended that you should check your credit report at least once per year. But, we think you should get much more familiar than that. Here are 6 times you need to check your credit report.
1. Debt Collectors Are Calling Your Phone
If you have started to receive calls from debt collectors in regard to unpaid bills, it’s time to do some damage control. Whether the debt has been paid or not, it could be showing up as a delinquent account on your credit report, which can significantly decrease your credit score.
To get your score back up you can negotiate the removal of your debt from your credit report as a condition of the payment. Remember, you have rights when a debt collector calls. Don’t automatically pay without getting more information first – everything is negotiable.
2. You’re Getting Separated or Divorced
If you are getting divorced or separated from your partner or spouse, you’re probably splitting up your finances too. By checking your credit report, you can identify all the accounts you need to split, though credit reports are in no way comprehensive. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report post-breakup if you’re worried an ex might try to open an account using your name and information.
3. You Just Moved to A New House
Moving to a new house is a stressful and busy time, so it’s easy to forget to pay a final bill or close a certain account. Then, months later, missed payments could show up on your credit report that will have delinquent status. After moving into your new home, it’s a good idea to check your credit report to see if you’ve missed any accounts.
4. Your Identity Was Stolen
Data breaches happen far too often these days, in fact, the Equifax data breach impacted 2.5 million Americans. If you’ve been put at risk or had your wallet/purse stolen the old-fashioned way, it’s time to check your credit report as your personal information could be compromised. On your credit report, you will be able to see if any new accounts have been opened in your name. If something looks suspicious it might be identity theft.
5. You’re Applying for a Loan
Thinking of applying for a mortgage, car loan, or credit card? Make sure you check your credit report first. By doing so, you’ll be the first to see any nasty surprises on your credit report. Then, you can do your best to rectify them. By increasing your credit score you’ll get a better interest rate on any loan you take out.
6. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Checked
At AnnualCreditReport.com, an official government website, you can access your credit score once per year. The site details all of your reports from the three big credit agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This is a free service, and despite popular opinion, it doesn’t negatively affect your credit score. However, we’d recommend checking more than once per year – use CreditSesame, a free service, that not only lets you check your score but tells you how to improve it, too.