Why You Should Check Your Credit Reports
Credit reports don’t just exist to provide lenders with an overview of your credit history. They also provide a means for you to assess your own financial health and determine where you can make improvements. Finances can be a significant contributor to stress if you don’t know how to manage them, and knowing what’s on your credit report is the first step to staying on track.
Your credit report will list all of your open accounts and show you where they stand - whether you are up to date with payments or if you’ve fallen behind. Late payments will hurt your credit while consistent, on time payments will help you.
Credit reports also aren’t always accurate. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people have flawed credit reports. There are a number of factors that can contribute to errors, such as fraud, someone else’s information on your report, or inaccurate reporting of accounts. Regardless of the cause, errors can sometimes negatively affect your credit. You should always review your report for inaccurate information and dispute any errors with the reporting bureau. Review your personal information and make sure you recognize all of the open accounts. Checking your report regularly is a great way to make sure you aren’t a victim of identity theft or fraud.
Set Goals to Improve
When you check your reports regularly, you gain insight into some of your financial habits. If you regularly max out credit cards, it’s a sign that you need to create stricter budgets to avoid overspending. If you’re forgetful when it comes to making timely bill payments, look into automatic payments or set reminders to keep you on track. Knowing exactly what’s on your credit report allows you to set responsible goals to improve your financial health.
Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately, your credit score won’t skyrocket overnight once you start taking steps to improve it. The amount of time it takes to improve your score will depend on the factors that are bringing it down.
Negative listings, such as a loan default or car repossession, remain on your report for up to seven years. Improving your report after events like these will require some patience and discipline.
If an error is negatively affecting your credit, you’ll likely see an improvement to your score once it’s resolved.
Take Action Now
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t avoid checking your credit reports. You may request one free report from each bureau every twelve months. It is important for you to see that the information on your report is accurate. And if it's not, take steps to correct it.