Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How often do you check your credit score and credit reports?

For the past few years, I have pretty consistently checked my credit score and report once a year during the first few months of the year. But because identity theft seems to be running rampant these days coupled with the desire to know where I stand financially, I have decided to check my score and report twice a year. I don’t anticipate making any major purchases before 2009 (property, car, etc.), but I may have to take out a minimal amount student loans (I know Michelle Singletary would cringe if she overheard me say that) for grad school in the near future. I use www.annualcreditreport.com and looked at each report from the three credit bureaus: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. You are entitled to one free credit report per year but FICO scores have to be purchased for a nominal fee. I personally think those credit monitoring services are a waste of money unless you have had experienced serious instances of identity theft. To find out find out more about identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Center at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.

There weren’t any surprises on any of my credit reports, but I did notice that all three of my credit scores had dropped a few points since I last checked my scores in February. I know that my high credit card balances are to blame for this drop. My balances are slowly creeping down, but my available credit is minimal on two of my credit cards. The one store credit card I have, Ann Taylor is paid in full when I make purchases on it. According to my credit report, the fact that my credit history is still fairly new (about 5 years starting with my undergraduate student loans) affects my score. My oldest credit card was opened in 2005. All of my scores are in the fair range, but to get the best rates on any loans or other credit I would want to take out in the near future, my scores needs to improve a minimum of about 20 points. Sigh.

All you have to do is open up your local paper to the business section to see how important maintaining your credit is. Your credit can impact your job prospects, ability to buy a home or a car or take out educational loans for yourself or your children. Needless to say, I’ll be working to get my scores up by early 2009 when I plan to check them again.

When was the last time you checked your credit score?


YBP said...

i need to check my credit report asap!! My ITunes Juniper visa just raised my credit limit so I must be doing well. I also got approved for a home depot card. I will check it in a couple weeks to make sure everything is okay. I want my scores to be in the 700's!

Keep paying down those balances!