How often do you look at your credit report? Not often enough, according to an exclusive MoneyTips survey. While 3 out of 10 Americans said they had looked at their credit history within the last month, nearly half (47.3%) hadn’t seen theirs in at least six months. Making matters worse, nearly 1 out of every 7 respondents admitted that they had never looked at their credit report at all!
Nearly 30% (29.8%) reported checking their credit report within the last month, and more than 50% (52.7%) within the last six months. But more than 14% (14.1%), nearly 1 out of 7, admitted never seeing their credit report in their entire lives!
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“In order to raise your credit score you need to get a copy of your credit report; know what’s in it,” says Experian Director of Public Education Rod Griffin. “That credit report should be there to help you get the credit you need when you need it. It’s a good idea to check it 3 to 6 months in advance so that if there is any issue, you can get it resolved long before you apply.”
Griffin elaborates, “I check my credit scores periodically just to know where I stand and to make sure there are no signs of fraud or identity theft. I don’t worry about my credit scores, the numbers themselves too much; I worry a lot more about the credit report itself because that credit report is what’s used to calculate the scores. So, if you take care of your credit report, your scores will take care of themselves.”
Digging a little deeper, we found that nearly 30% of those adults under age 30 had never checked their credit report. The figure was 21.9% for those 18-39, but only 9.8% for those 40 and up. For our oldest age group, 70+, the percentage that never saw their credit report dropped to 2.4%.
“If you are planning to buy a car they are going to look at a credit score for auto lending. If you are going to get a cell phone they may look at a credit score as part of that new service, because they want to know you are going to be able to repay that cell phone bill. If you are going to rent an apartment they’ll look at your credit reports to determine if you qualify for that rental,” explains Griffin. “Taking care of that credit report and those credit scores are important throughout your life, because as you do business every day it can come into play.”
Income was also a factor. More than 1 in 4 (28.4%) of the lowest-income group, those earning less than $30,000 annually, had never looked over their credit report for accuracy or to find ways to improve their financial position. The ratio was nearly 1 out of 6 (16.1%) of those earning $100,000 or less annually, as compared to less than 1 out of 14 (6.9%) for those earning more than $100,000.
Warned National Financial Educators Founder and Chief Education Officer Adam Carroll, “With rampant credit card fraud schemes occurring today, the likelihood of something derogatory showing up on your credit report is significant. Even erroneous filings to your credit report can cause your score to plummet if left unchecked. Making sure your report is clean and clear from any errors could save you tens of thousands in the long run.”