Do you check your credit report? Your score might be the furthest thing from your mind while you’re going about your day-to-day. But, in reality, it could guide a lot of what you do daily.
Banks and credit card companies use the all-important number to determine your creditworthiness. Potential landlords look at it. Even future employers may consider it.
Don’t know what’s on your report? Here are five reasons to check your credit report now — and at least once a year.
You’re planning a big purchase
If you plan on buying a new car, purchasing a home or borrowing money for another big expense, you’ll want to check your credit report to ensure it is the best it can be.
The better your number, the more likely you’ll be able to get the loan you need with the payments you can afford. A low credit score could cost you tens of thousands of extra dollars in interest over the course of a loan.
For example, home buyers with a score between 620 and 639, according to Bankrate.com, will pay $220,000 in interest paid on a 30-year fixed loan of $200,000. But another home buyer with a credit score of 760 to 850 would pay nearly $70,000 less in interest. That could have a big impact on your total monthly payments and, over the course of 30 years, your wallet.
The same scenario can play out for car buyers too. A recent study from WalletHub found that not having a top credit score could cost consumers an extra $6,300 over the life of a $20,000, five-year loan.
You’re shopping around for a new apartment
You might not be borrowing money to rent a new apartment, but your prospective landlord still cares about your credit history. They want to determine how well you’ve covered your past bills and debts and get an idea about whether you’ll pay your rent on time. According to The Mortgage Reports, most landlords will require a score of at least 600 or 620.
You’re planning a career move
Nearly 30 percent of employers check their applicants’ credit histories before extending a job offer, according to a recent CareerBuilder report. The information gives companies a window into a job candidates’ life and provides some information about how well they handle their own affairs.
But employers generally can’t just look it up without your sign off. The federal Fair Credit Report Act requires that employers get consent from job applicants before accessing the reports.
You think you might be the victim of identity theft
News about the latest data breach regularly pops up in the headlines. Just in 2018, Marriott, Panera, Facebook and Orbitz were among the major companies who warned consumers that bad actors may have gotten hold of their personal information. In fact, about 7 percent of U.S. residents ages 16 or older were the victims of identity theft, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Warning signs that somebody has stolen your identity, according to the Federal Trade Commission, include withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain, bills that don’t arrive in the mail and calls from collectors about debt that isn’t yours. Check your credit report periodically to help to confirm if your identity has been stolen.
You can’t remember the last time you checked
If it’s been a while, here’s the good news: It’s free to check your credit report once a year. AnnualCreditReport.com will provide a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
And there’s no time like the start of a new year to check your credit report — and make a plan for improvement if your score needs a boost.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.