If there’s something unfamiliar on my credit report, it could be NBD, like my student loan debt was sold to a new servicer and I never realized it. But there’s a chance it could be a sign of identity theft — someone, say, using my name to open new credit card accounts.
“There are consequences involved in leaving inaccurate information unaddressed,” McClary adds. “Treat everything as important.”
Credit reports (and the scores based on them) are widely used as a barometer of my worthiness as a borrower.
As we learned back in Issue #55, it’s not just a concern if I’m hoping to buy a house — my credit history can influence whether I get approved for an apartment, whether I have to put down a security deposit with a utility provider and whether I can buy a new cell phone, to name a few.
Shamica Joseph, learning experience designer at GreenPath Financial Wellness, says even if all the information listed is right, it’s still a good idea to know what’s on my credit report. That way there are no surprises the next time I apply for a loan.
This is also why I want to pull reports from all three bureaus: Although they should line up, there’s a chance I’ll find inconsistencies.
Similarly, if I’m not happy with what I see, I can use this as an opportunity to address it. (McClary suggests seeking out a legit financial counselor through the NFCC if I need professional help.)
“Whatever your credit goals may be, keeping track of your credit reports on a monthly basis will help you easily do that,” Joseph adds.
Although pulling my own credit results in a soft inquiry, not a hard one, there can be risks in viewing my reports too often. She says some people get a lot of anxiety from checking their credit, so “in general, it’s not recommended to check it weekly.”
Contrary to popular belief, banks and credit card companies aren't legally required to report every on-time payment I make to to the bureaus, McClary says. So even if pulling my credit every single week doesn't freak me out, I likely won't see a ton of changes or improvement in that short amount of time anyway.