You could think of your personal credit report as a health history for your finances. But unlike your actual health history, which is unlikely to fall prey to tampering, your credit history can be subject to inaccuracies or outright identity theft. Problems on your credit report can lead to a tanked credit score, inability to obtain credit, and long-term financial damage. So, you should be checking it regularly.
Has it been a year since you last checked your credit history? You should be contacting credit bureaus and checking your report once per year anyway. In addition, you should check your report if any of the following events happen…
You’re getting ready to purchase a home (or second home, or boat). Checking your credit report will show you where you stand with lenders, and give you more bargaining power during the lending process. You will also learn whether there are items that need to be cleared from your history. It’s often worth a few months of effort in order to obtain a higher score (and potentially more advantageous mortgage interest rate).
You’ve moved recently. If you moved to a new city or state, check your credit report within a few months afterward. Sometimes a bill can be overlooked during the moving process, and leaving it on your report will damage your score.
You’re receiving strange calls. If bills collectors have suddenly begun calling, this is a sign that you overlooked a debt. Or, in the worst-case scenario, someone has obtained credit in your name.
You have reason to suspect your information has been compromised. Have you done business with a company that has suffered a breach of information recently? You might have received a notice in the mail, or read a frightening news report. You should check your credit report and contest any suspicious debts immediately.
Your credit history is just one part of your overall financial health picture, but it is a very important one. Take care of it, and as you look toward the future keep us in mind. We can help you anticipate and plan for opportunities that can lead to increasing financial health and a secure retirement.