It is always a good idea to know the current state of your finances. Letting things go without checking up on them may lead to some horrible surprises. Checking your credit report at this point of the year is a good way to understand what changes you might need to make in order to correct or avoid past mistakes. While the year is still (relatively) young, why not make it a late New Year’s resolution to find out right away what your present credit score is by getting a free credit report?
A credit score affects your finances in many different ways – possibly even more than you might imagine. Just a few years ago, it would mostly only affect your ability to either get credit, or if you were able to get it, it affected your interest rate on loans and credit cards. Today, says Heather Struck at Forbes.com, it also affects your car insurance premiums, your ability to get a job, and possibly even your ability to rent an apartment. In fact, she says, it may also affect your relationships. It could also prevent you from getting a small business loan when trying to get financing to start your own business, reports Forbes.
Look for Discrepancies on Your Free Credit Report
Another very good reason to review your credit reports is because it may reveal that someone has misused your credit – an identity thief. If you do not carefully pay attention to your finances and the monthly statements you receive, you would not know if someone has been making charges to your account or not. There could also be mistakes on your credit report, which is not very unusual. Credit report mistakes are rather common and if there is one, it could be adversely affecting your ability to get new credit or good terms on the credit you do get. Investopedia says that: “Discrepancies, no matter how small they may seem to the individual, can cause financial institutions to not approve loans.”
Fix Credit Scores Before Getting New Credit
Because your credit score affects your interest rate, it is always a good idea to work to raise your credit score in advance if you are seeking to get new credit. This is true whether the new credit is a mortgage, a car loan, or a new credit card. There are definite ways to do this faster, says SmartMoney, and they include not closing older credit cards, making at least minimum payments consistently on time, keep your balances low, and avoid applying for a lot of credit cards at the same time.
Get Your Free Credit Report
The Federal Trade Commission reports that you can get an annual free credit report every year. In fact, you can get one free from each of the three largest credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. There is only one official website (annualcreditreport.com) for these three agencies where you should go, and you will need to go to it and apply. You may also call
1-877-322-8228. You can also request it by mail by printing out the special Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Now, before you forget, why not make sure this late New Year’s resolution doesn’t get overlooked. Go and get your free credit report now.