When was the last time you read through your credit report? As you may know, you can gain free access to your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and Transunion once every year via annualcreditreport.com . A couple of weeks back, I went online to check my credit report. Prior to that, I hadn’t accessed my credit report in about fifteen months.
If you haven’t done so in a while, I encourage you to order your credit report and study it carefully. As you read though the report, look out for indicators of progress towards your goals and overall financial health.
Be sure to confirm there are no unrecognized credit accounts opened in your name. If you come across any accounts that you were unaware of, you may have been a victim of identity theft. In that case, you need to promptly raise a dispute with the credit reporting agency.
Do you have a steady history of on-time payments? When was the last time you were late in making a payment? Never? Excellent. If your payment history is less than stellar, use tools such as autopay and payment due alerts to help ensure you never miss another payment.
Are the reported balances on your existing credit accounts accurate? Keep in mind that creditors such as mortgage and credit card companies typically report outstanding balances on a one-month lag. If your reported balances seem to be overstated, that’s another reason to contact the credit union to open an inquiry.
How frequently should you check your credit report? There’s no hard and fast rule. Personally, I typically check all credit reports once a year – usually at the same time. This year, I am taking a staggered approach – checking my report with a different credit agency in four month intervals. By so doing, I will be closer to having year-round monitoring and also hope to measure progress in reducing my credit utilization.