Though most consumers know how important a good credit standing can be to one’s overall financial health, many do not even take the most basic steps to properly take care of their own credit.
In a new survey from online legal resource FindLaw.com, 22 percent of Americans say that they have never taken the time to order a copy of their credit reports, despite the fact that consumers can order them free of charge under federal laws. Women were more likely than men to take the time to order their reports, as 82 percent of women polled said they had done so at least once, compared with just 75 percent of men who could say the same.
Moreover, the survey found that those who have lower incomes are generally less likely to check their credit reports at least once, the report said. Just 14 percent of those with household incomes of at least $75,000 per year said they had never done so.
“The accuracy of your credit report can have a major impact on your finances, and even your chances of obtaining a job,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. “Inaccuracies in information such as late payments or defaults could play a major role in whether you can obtain a home mortgage, credit card, car loan and other types of debt, and how favorable your terms will be, such as interest rates. Credit reports are increasingly used in background checks, and could determine whether you are offered a job or rental housing.”
Federal law states that consumers are entitled to one copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus per year, and consumers can get these free copies at AnnualCreditReport.com .
Checking these documents closely can be a great way to keep one’s credit standing and overall finances healthy, and it’s up to each borrower to determine whether they will stagger their ordering of these documents throughout the year or get them all at once. However, in general, when a mistake is discovered in one report, borrowers should order the other two, of which they are entitled, to determine whether it appears on those as well. You can also monitor your credit on a monthly basis using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card.
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