Yes. Because your credit score affects your personal finances in many ways, a low credit score can be expensive to you – and even if you know you use your credit responsibly, there are ways your score can be affected without your knowledge. For example, it has become common for people to have their identity stolen, and one effect of this can be a hit to your credit score. Also, it’s not uncommon for your credit report to contain one or more mistakes, and this can lower your credit score. You won’t know about these things until you check!
If it is truly a mistake, in the sense that you never had the account listed on the report and you have been mixed up with someone else, then the credit bureau may be able to remove it. You will need to demonstrate that this was a mistake. However, most negative marks on a credit report cannot be removed by anyone other than the company that reported it. Your best bet is to contact the company directly to clear up any mistakes.
Because there are many issues today with identity theft and companies having their customers’ accounts compromised, ideally you should monitor your credit on a continuous basis. There are services that will alert you when any changes take place on your credit report. In lieu of this, you should check your credit report one to two times a year as part of your personal finances. Also, you should check your credit before making any major purchase you plan to finance. Higher interest rates because of problems on your credit report can be expensive.
If you find that your credit score is too low, there are several things you can do to improve it. Part of your credit score is influenced by the amount of credit you have versus the amount you owe. Therefore, pay down your debt to increase your credit to debt ratio. Also, keep in mind that over time, negative marks on your credit report will drop off. Even a bankruptcy will only affect your credit score for no longer than seven years. Above all, make sure you pay your bills on time. This is the best long-term strategy to have an excellent credit rating.
You can check your credit score by getting a free credit report. All three of the major credit agencies will do this, but only once a year. There are companies that offer additional credit score services, along with a standard credit report. They may offer low cost options for additional reports to check your credit score throughout the year. Many of these companies offer a credit monitoring service to alert you in a timely manner when there is unusual activity in your account. Other services that are commonly offered include assistance in cleaning up a bad credit report, so you enjoy a higher credit rating.
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