Why You Should Review Your Credit Report Annually
Aside from personal wellness goals, financial intentions are the most popular of New Year’s resolutions topics. Credit counselors recommend reviewing your credit report at least once per calendar year to ensure this all-important picture of your financial health remains accurate, and there’s no better time that the beginning of a new calendar year. However, with so much information included, knowing where to start can prove confusing for consumers. As you begin reviewing your report, the following are items you should be certain to check:
Your Personal Information
You’ll want to start by verifying that your name, address and telephone number are correct, and that your employment information is up to date, complete and error-free. It’s also important to check the accuracy of your social security number, date of birth and marital status in this section of the report.
Credit Accounts – Open AND Closed
The credit accounts section lists all your personal credit accounts, and it’s vital to make sure you don’t see any that don’t belong, either in your open accounts or closed/paid accounts. If you see an account that isn’t yours, it could mean someone has stolen your identity, or that someone with the same name is mistakenly showing up on your credit report. This is called “comingling” and it is actually a fairly common occurrence. Experts say it’s also prudent to verify that any debts you have paid off correctly list your balance-owed as zero dollars.
While they might seem like no big deal to the consumer, too many recent inquiries can hurt your credit score. You’ll want to remove any that appear on your credit report without your permission. According to federal law, creditors cannot pull your credit report unless they have your explicit, written permission to do so. Violators should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you happen to find errors or erroneous information in your credit report, you should take action quickly. You’ll need to submit a correction request in writing to the credit reporting agency, including any supporting documents available. Consumers needing assistance with correcting errors may visit the Federal Trade Commission consumer information page.
Image via Flickr/Nathan Richardson