What Are Creditors Saying About You?

What Are Creditors Saying About You?

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credit report

Here is some food for thought: you’re planning to renovate your home or take out a loan to pay for a new car. You’ve done extensive research on what you want and, in the case of a home improvement project, you’ve chosen the contractor, drawn up plans, and priced those new kitchen cabinets and counter tops you want.

One thing remains undone, an important step that could scuttle your dreams: your credit could be trashed, thanks to the work of an identity thief or because of a mistake made by the credit bureau. Yes, you’ve done your homework but you forgot one key step: checking your credit reports to see if they are accurate and reflect current information.

Your credit report is a vital part of consumer lending and, thanks to an act of Congress, is free when ordered through Annual Credit Report, a website managed by the three primary credit reporting agencies, Experian, Expedia, and TransUnion. Once annually, you can get one copy each from the three agencies of your credit report for free and optionally pay the $4-8 fee to get your credit score. Yes, pay the money for your credit score because that is the number creditors use to determine if you qualify for a loan and at what rate.

Checking your credit reports regularly makes sense, but what about other services which keep tabs on you? Though credit reporting bureaus are the most important way to get “the goods” on you, there are some other organizations who keep tabs on you, namely:

Insurance — Your medical history or your homeowner’s policy could be information that insurers want. Several companies keep tabs on this stuff including MIB and Choice Trust.

Tenancy — If you’ve rented before and left your landlord high and dry, don’t think for a moment that this decision won’t come back to haunt you. SafeRent and ChoicePoint know what you did and they’re more than willing to share this information with a landlord, for a fee of course.

Job — Acxiom and ChoicePoint keep tabs of your employment history, but you could be aiding them with your online resume through Monster or CareerBuilder.

Banking — Have you written a hot check lately? Probably not, but opening up a checking account is serious business. That’s why TeleCheck, ChexSystems, and SCAN keep track of good and bad deposit information.

If a problem does come up,  the credit reporting bureau or other credit checker must allow you to address the mistake or correct a problem. Most of the companies I’ve mentioned will provide that information to you for free, but you have to ask in order to get it.

Don’t wait until after you set your home improvement or other consumer project in motion before checking your credit reports. To delay means you’ll really pay, but certainly not in a good way!

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