A lack of familiarity with your credit report could cost you big. The information in your credit report determines your ability to qualify for credit cards, loans, and even employment in some cases. Negative information in your credit report could hurt your credit score and block access to the financial products you need.
You should already be checking your credit report on an annual basis, but in some scenarios it’s advisable to check your credit ASAP.
Here are seven reasons to pull your credit report right now.
1. You’re Trying to Improve Your Credit
If you want to improve your credit, one of your first steps should be checking your credit report. You can identify past financial mistakes to avoid in the future and dispute any negative information that is inaccurate. Removing false, negative items from your credit report can help give your credit score a quick boost.
2. You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
If you’ve been getting calls from debt collectors for debts you don’t owe, or your applications for credit have been denied when you thought you had great credit, you may have been a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves can use your personal information to open fraudulent accounts, which land on your credit report and wreck your credit score.
If you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, you need to pull your credit report right way. If it contains fraudulent or inaccurate information, you will have to go through the process of getting those items removed. You may also need to put a freeze on your credit report until you get everything sorted out.
3. Your Data is Compromised
Companies, financial institutions, and other organizations store large databases of customer information. If a company you have done business with is hacked, or if your purse or wallet goes missing, you could be at risk. Anytime you suspect your personal data (such as birth date, Social Security number, and other identifying information) has been stolen, you should pull your credit report to check for signs of identity theft.
4. You Plan to Apply for Credit
Do you plan to apply for a credit card, loan, or other financial product soon? When you submit an application, the creditor will pull your credit report to evaluate your risk as a borrower. Before that happens, you should make sure your credit report is representing you in the best possible light. Check your credit report to look for any inaccurate information that is making you look bad.
5. You Recently Moved
Packing up your stuff and moving to a new home can be chaotic. In the midst of a move, you may have forgotten to cancel a utility or have bills forwarded to your new address. This can cause you to miss a payment, which will trigger a late payment landing on your credit report in as little as 30 days. Check your credit report to make sure a bill didn’t slip through the cracks. Paying it now can prevent further damage to your credit score.
6. You’re Separating or Getting Divorced
Your credit report can help you identify joint accounts you and your ex need to close in the case of a separation or divorce. And post-breakup, an untrustworthy ex could try to use your personal information to open accounts in your name. Check your credit report to make sure that didn’t happen.
7. You Haven’t Checked In a Year
Even if none of these scenarios apply to you, you can check your credit for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If it’s been a year or more since you last checked your credit report, you should pull it now. It’s free, and you may learn something important!
Remember, there are three credit bureaus – Experian, Transunion, and Equifax – that maintain credit reports. The next time you check your credit, make sure you are pulling your report from all three.
When you’ve been a victim of identity theft, or you just want to be extra diligent, manually pulling your credit report might not be enough. Credit monitoring services can help, watching your credit report and alerting you whenever something changes. It’s a viable solution for those that want extra peace of mind.