Make Tax Time And Checking Your Credit A Combo
Let's face it, people enjoy checking their credit about as much as they enjoy doing their taxes. As much as the credit bureaus and other companies try to make checking out your credit seem like fun on commercials (so you'll buy their "monitoring" products), the reality is that checking your credit gives people same sinking feeling in your stomach that you get while your doing your taxes hoping that they work out to you getting a refund instead of owing the IRS money. And just like doing your taxes, it's not an easy task if your doing it right. Credit reports are filled with obtuse credit data and industry terms that can be hard to understand. With all the unpleasant emotions associated with checking your credit, its easy to come up with excuses to put off checking your credit or just not check it at all. The bad part about that is that putting off checking your credit can have some unforeseen consequences.
The first problem is that if you never check your credit you may be caught off guard when you apply for credit if there are errors on your report or your credit is not what you thought it was. This result can delay the credit approval process or nix it altogether, which can end up being a disaster if your trying to do something important like get a mortgage.
Even if your checking your credit score periodically, which is a common feature offered now with credit cards, the credit score is no substitute for actually sitting down and reviewing what's on your credit report. For example, your credit report might erroneously have an auto loan belonging to your father (who has the same name) that your father pays on time. That account isn't going to lower your credit score, but when you go to apply for an auto loan you might be shocked to learn that you can't get the loan because the auto lender sees that outstanding auto loan belonging to your father on your credit report.
The best thing to do is take the time to do a thorough review of your credit history at least once a year. I promise you it won't be fun. It may remind you about debts you have that you don't want to think about. It may require you to do a little research to make sure that the loan information on your reports are correct. You may even need to dispute information that is on the report in error to have it corrected. It is, however, a necessary element to staying in control of your credit history. Remember the credit bureaus will be collecting this information about you with or without your input. Best you keep an eye on what they are collecting and whether its correct.
So if checking your credit is about as much fun as doing your taxes, why not make it a combo and get both tasks out the way at the same time. Make a plan to get copies of your credit reports each year on the same day you do your taxes. Make sure you file away copies of your the credit reports as well just like you would with a copy of your tax returns since your prior reports can be useful information if a problem arises with your reports in the future. Once your done, you will have both of these unpleasant tasks out the way and have the satisfaction of knowing you did your part to keep your credit history in check for the year. Give yourself a pat on the back!
Greg Gorski is a consumer rights attorney in Philadelphia and founder of Gorski Law, a firm formed exclusively to help consumers with credit report problems. If you have a problem with you credit report, Gorski Law may be able to help. An initial consultation at Gorski Law is always free. Call 215-330-2100 or email to schedule a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.