Tracking your credit standing is essential to maintaining a spotless credit report and score, since a host of financial decisions reference these records. Most experts agree that you should check your report at least once every year. However, there are certain life events when you should do so more frequently.
You’re Applying for a Loan
Your credit report will be closely scrutinized by lenders when you submit a loan application, so it’s important you do the same.
Experts recommend checking your credit report at least six months in advance of submitting your application. So that you have ample time to review your balances, determine areas that could use improvement, and dispute any errors that could negatively impact your credit score. Obtain another copy of your credit report at about three months before you apply to make sure inaccuracies were removed and that no new negative information has appeared.
You’ve Been Denied Credit
If your loan or credit card application was denied based on a poor credit score, you are entitled to a free report from the credit bureau that the lender used. You will receive notification via snail mail and can follow the instructions listed. This is a critical opportunity to check your credit report to explore the root of the problem and strengthen your financial weaknesses.
You’re A Victim of Identity Theft
Regularly, consumers whose identities are compromised by a data breach are given a free subscription to credit monitoring. That’s a testament to the value of knowing your safe. Otherwise, best practice is to review your credit report occasionally to check for incidents of identity theft. Often people don’t learn of the crime until they do so. Accounts or delinquent charges that do not belong to you are key indicators.
You’re Getting Married or Divorced
Newlyweds embarking on a new life together tend to take out loans jointly, so it’s important to get a sense for your spouse’s credit beforehand. If there are significant differences, it could impact how you make financial decisions. Alternately, if you’re going through a divorce, be certain to close joint accounts. Failure to do so leaves your credit score subject to your spouse’s payment habits.
You’re Seeking Employment
In good times and bad, many employers review applicants’ credit reports when making hiring decisions. A 2010 report conducted by Human Resources Management reveals 57 percent of employers check potential employees’ credit reports after the initial job offer, and 30 percent run applicants’ credit following the interview. Your credit history may not be the determining factor of whether you land your dream job, but it can differentiate you from your competition, so check your credit report and don’t be afraid to speak up.