Think you’re safe from creepy credit? Think again. There may be things lurking on your credit report that you least expected. That’s why it’s so important to check on it at least once a year (it’s free, via annualcreditreport.com), so that you won’t get a spooky surprise. Even better, because there are 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), you can request one report every 4 months to keep better tabs on your accounts.
Think that there’s no way there are mistakes on their credit report? Here’s a scary stat to consider: 42 million Americans have errors on their credit reports. And many of those errors can become a nuisance, or worse, wreak havoc on your personal finances.
Here’s what to look for:
Silly mistakes. A name misspelling, a wrong address, or an incorrect social security number can prove to be quite a pain if it isn’t fixed. For one thing, you might be mistaken for another person who has poor credit, and you may be denied if you try to apply for a loan.
ID fraud. Realizing that someone is using your identity to open up accounts and run up bills can send chills up your spine. The consequences are even worse if it goes undiscovered for a long period of time. Be sure to check over all of the accounts very carefully and question anything that doesn’t sound familiar.
Creditor errors. Mistakes do happen, and people have been falsely accused of being delinquent on their accounts. You won’t know that you are being flagged as a bad borrower until you attempt to apply for a line of credit, and then you’ll have the hassle of proving you’re not a deadbeat before you can move forward.
A look at how much you really owe. Even if there aren’t any errors, sometimes taking a closer look at your financial snapshot can feel like a horror show. That’s because it may surprise – or terrify – you to realize how much debt you’re actually in. Before you panic, consider it to be your “aha” moment to get started on a smart plan toward living a debt-free life.
If you discover that your credit report is haunted, never fear. It will take some back and forth with the credit bureaus and/or your creditors, but clearing up your credit isn’t too terrifying if you stay on top of it.