Don’t look now but the New Year is just around the corner and if you are anything like me you will soon be setting your goals for 2014, as well as trying to check off a few more goals from this year. No matter what your goals are, most people I talk to have at least one goal that has to do with their personal finances. Maybe it is to pay off a credit card, or to increase your savings account balance, or to start a saving account. Whatever the goal is you still have time.
One of the more common things that I heard from people this year was a goal to improve their credit score. Some have succeeded in that and congratulations are in order for them. Others have found several excuses to not get started. Regardless of your credit score, one thing everyone needs to be aware of is what’s on your credit report.
The best way to check this is to go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request a free copy of your credit reports. If you have not taken advantage of this very important benefit you’re not alone. It is estimated that 96% of people that are entitled to a free annual credit report do not take advantage of it. I know at least one person reading this is saying “I don’t need to do this because I know that my credit is good” but let me also share with you another statistic. A 2013 Federal Trade Commission’s Study revealed that one in four consumers identified errors on their credit reports that might affect their credit score. Though the news is troubling in the sense that you cannot necessarily control what is or isn’t accurately reported to the bureaus you can control whether or not you check the reports.
Checking your reports is a practice that everyone should do at least yearly. You might be doing everything right and have a terrific score, but if someone else makes an error that ends up affecting your score wouldn’t you want to know about that now rather than just having your score get lower and potentially costing you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars?
Keep in mind you can get these reports annually, so for example if you request these reports this month, you are eligible again for a free report in November 2014. If you have already taken advantage of these free reports and need help understanding them let me know and I would be happy to assist you in that. If you haven’t requested your reports this year then get to work and pull them before the year is over. I told you they were FREE, right? I know you are busy, but this will only take you 10 minutes to complete. It just might be the most profitable 10 minutes you spend all year.