What should I watch for in my credit report?
In addition to confirming your basic information, such as your name, address, and social security number, also watch for errors and signs of fraud:
- New accounts that you do not recall opening
- Derogatory information that is not up to date, such as loan payment history (note that bankruptcies stay on your credit file for several years)
- Derogatory information that is incorrect, including missed payments, collection actions, eviction, or repossessions
- Excessive inquiries into your file.
Why is it important to check my credit report?
It's wise to check your credit report frequently for signs of fraud. If someone obtains your social security number, only a few additional pieces of information are necessary to perpetrate fraud in your name. Common types of identity theft include fraudulent bank accounts, credit cards, utilities, and loans. According to the FTC, victims of identity theft spend an average of 175 hours and $800 to clear their names. Early detection is the key to avoid suffering long-term financial consequences.
How long does it take for a closed account to be removed from my credit file?
The file will be updated in 30 to 60 days, but public records such as court actions and collections remain for seven years. Note that it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to correct an error in your report.
Why is my credit score so important?
Your credit score is used by lenders to represent your overall level credit risk. It is essentially a numerical summary of the information in your credit report. The higher your score, the better your credit, and the more likely lenders will be to give you a favorable interest rate on a loan. Each of the three major credit bureaus has its own method for determining a credit score, but they are essentially equivalent.
How high or low can my credit score be?
Credit scores range from 350 to 850 - the higher your score, the more favorable interest rates you will receive on a loan.
Will checking my credit report adversely affect my credit?
Requesting your own credit report will not affect your credit rating. On the other hand, inquiries such as mortgage, loan and credit card applications will affect your score if several of these inquiries occur over a relatively short time frame. Some studies have indicated that this suggests you may be a higher credit risk.