Your credit reports are an important record of your credit activity, loans, public records, and more. Creditors such as credit card companies and banks submit your credit information to the three major credit bureaus, which compile this info into your credit report. If you ever need to take out a loan, your lender will review your credit report to see if your credit history qualifies. Some employers may even use it to see if you are a reliable individual.
Your credit report is a big deal! If it contains errors or reflects poorly on your financial history, this can ruin your chances with loan applications, job offers, house purchases, and other important life decisions. That’s why you need to check your credit report. We’ve laid out some of the best ways you can clean up your credit report and start fresh in the new year.
Make that New Year’s Resolution to clean up your credit report.
The winter holidays may have a habit of sending you into the new year with drained accounts and a sloppy credit report. That means the new year is a great opportunity to make sure your credit report is spick and span.
If holiday debt has negatively affected your credit card payments, your credit report will reflect that. It’s also possible that your credit report could now contain errors from erroneous credit card charges. The worst scenario of all would be if identity thieves got ahold of your information and wreaked havoc on your credit report without your knowledge!
How often should you check your credit score?
Check your credit report as often as you can. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free report each year from each bureau. You can even stagger your requests, so you receive a credit report from a different bureau every few months.
Here are a few simple ways you can check your credit report:
- Request your credit report from each major credit bureau: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- View your credit score. The major credit bureaus may allow you to request your credit score, or you can access several websites that let you view your score for free or for a small price.
- Sit down and review your credit reports. Be prepared for this to take a while. It’s worth the time for you to go through your reports line by line, double-checking your personal information, account balances, loan and payment history, and recent credit inquiries from other entities such as banks or potential employers. If you see something wrong, file a dispute with the credit bureaus and include evidence of the discrepancy.
- Pay what you owe on outstanding collections.
- If you have a past-due account, you can contact the creditor to ask if they will remove it from your credit report. This might be tough to accomplish unless you have a good relationship with the creditor and an otherwise solid history of making payments on time.
When do credit cards report to credit bureaus?
Your credit card companies report your credit to the major bureaus every 30-45 days. If you have just spent a large amount during the holidays, you may have a less-than-favorable credit report on your hands. Here are a few tips to help get your credit score back on the right track:
- Set a budget and stick to it.
- Use credit only when necessary to avoid making lenders think you always rely on it.
- Avoid applying for multiple new credit cards or lines of credit.
- If you need to increase your credit limit, make sure you can stick to your financial goals and explain your reasons for your increase to your lenders.
- Don’t miss your payments. Make it a priority to pay off your high-interest debts first so that these can’t negatively impact your credit score.
What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring is an essential service that watches over your credit reports and sends alerts if it detects changes in your accounts. These services cost a varying amount of money, so it is important that you understand what you are signing up for before you hand over your cash.
Credit monitoring alerts you to identity theft.
Credit monitoring not only alerts you about legitimate changes in your report but also warns you if identity theft has hit your home. According to the Michigan Department of Attorney General, in the U.S., one person falls victim to identity theft every two seconds. Since your credit report unlocks your purchasing power and even impacts your chances at future jobs, you want to be sure that identity thieves are not posing as you and wrecking your credit report. Credit monitoring can catch these illegitimate changes to your report and let you know right away, so you can take steps to correct the problem.
Monitor your credit with IDShield.
Your credit is essential for your future, your well-being, and your peace of mind. Good credit can be the difference between being able to buy something on credit at a decent interest rate or having to pay much more due to a higher interest rate. Protecting your overall credit is key. IDShield monitors your credit and can alert you to any changes so that you can take action before the damage is done.
Credit report monitoring in itself does not prevent identity theft. However, it’s a tool that can alert you to activity that may indicate identity theft is being attempted or has taken place. IDShield is here to help protect you and offer steps to help prevent future misuse of your data. If identity theft does occur, our Licensed Private Investigators will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore your identity to its pre-theft status.
Whether you are simply wanting to be proactive or you have already fallen victim to identity theft, IDShield can help.
The article was originally posted on IDShield.com.
Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to identity theft services through membership-based participation. IDShield is a product of PPLSI. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide professional advice, render an option, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent and professional advice. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be third-party paid contributors. All information by authors is accepted in good faith; however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.