Credit Report Articles

Checking Credit One Key To Healthy Personal Finances

Checking one's credit score is a good way to guard against fraud and identity theft.

When it comes to being well-versed in personal finances, people should remember the importance of checking their credit report and taking the proper steps to maintain a high credit score.

In fact, a recent column on the Chicago Tribune website gave consumers some additional pointers about how to avoid misinformation and misperceptions about personal credit.

For example, the newspaper noted that there is no negative effect on one's credit score for checking a credit report, and that it makes sense to check up on such information at different times through the year because of the frequency with which credit information changes.

The column also advised people to think twice about closing down old credit accounts because this could result in a shorter-looking credit history, which in turn could bring down one's score.

Overall, consumers have long been warned that the best way to ruin good credit is to miss monthly payments. This has become a far more common situation during the recession, with unemployment still stubbornly hovering around the 10 percent level.

Lenders have been demanding higher credit scores for people who hope to borrow money, which is one of the most important reasons for staying on top of one's financial information. However, the threat of identity theft is another significant danger for people who want to stay on top of their personal finances.

For those who have damaged credit and want to build up their score, one good place to start could be applying for a retail store credit card. These tend to carry higher interest rates but, at least for now, tend to be more open to those with somewhat lesser credit.

Another problem for people with damaged credit is the likelihood that they have been paying higher interest rates on their credit cards. This has changed for many people in light of this year's federal credit reforms that limit the circumstances under which high interest rates can be imposed.

For those who are still struggling with high personal debt, another useful tip is to focus on paying down the highest-interest rate account first, since this will help save more money in the long term.

With a higher credit score, people can also potentially save more money over time in the form of more favorable lending terms, most notably, lower interest rates for mortgages and auto loans.