Keeping abreast of your current financial situation seems like a no-brainer, something that everyone should do. But you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know anything beyond how much they have in their checking account and what their current charge card balances are. While those are probably the most immediate concerns as far as personal finance goes, you’re shortchanging yourself if you stop there. Instead, it’s absolutely critical that you check your credit score at least once a year — and even more often in some cases.
If you’re like most people, you only bother to check your credit score when you know that someone else is going to be looking at it soon. For instance, if you’re going to apply for a car loan or a mortgage, then it’s obviously a good idea to check your credit score first so you can see whether or not your application is likely to be approved and what kind of interest rates you’ll end up getting. But there are many other reasons to monitor your rating consistently.
First and foremost, when you check your credit score regularly, you’ll be able to spot and report any irregularities that you notice. Your report is based on information gathered by several different agencies, so there’s definitely room for error. The sooner you spot a discrepancy, the sooner you can have it corrected. Then your rating will be restored and ready for when you need to take out a loan or whatever.
Second, when you check your credit score, you’ll be instantly alerted to possible cases of identity theft. If you see accounts that you don’t recall opening or loan applications that you never submitted, then you’re probably a victim of identity theft. This kind of problem can have a severely detrimental effect on your overall rating if it’s not handled properly, so make sure that you alert the authorities right away if you suspect that someone has stolen your personal data.
A third reason to check your credit score is so you can see what prospective employers, insurance agents, and landlords will see when they evaluate your various applications. More and more employers are requiring this kind of information from job candidates prior to hiring, as are insurance companies and rental agencies. People simple aren’t willing to risk dealing with someone who’s financially unstable. By knowing what’s in your own report, you can avoid wasting time applying for jobs, policies, or apartments that you won’t be able to get.
Now that you know why it’s important to check your credit score, you’re probably wondering how to do so. You can get a free report once every 12 months by simply requesting one from AnnualCreditReport.com. Or, you can contact the three major reporting agencies — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — directly, though additional fees may apply. Don’t put this task off any longer; check your credit score online right now!