You’re an expert at making credit card payments on time. But do you regularly check your credit? That’s a completely different story. It is far too easy to forget to monitor your credit, but doing so could be dangerous. You don’t want something bad to catch you off guard.
Here are four reasons to monitor your credit, as well as ways to do so using Credit Sesame’s free credit monitoring tools and resources:
1. Infidelity in financial matters
When a trusted loved one, usually a significant other, keeps a money secret, such as undisclosed accounts or secret spending, this is referred to as financial infidelity.
Financial infidelity can seriously harm your credit. For example, if someone secretly adds you as an authorized user on their credit card, it may appear on your credit report and affect your credit score. While you are not legally obligated to pay any outstanding debt as an authorized user, if the primary account holder runs a high balance or misses payments, your credit score will most likely suffer.
If you have a Credit Sesame account, you can view your open accounts on your personalized dashboard, which is based on the information in your TransUnion credit report. Look for changes in the following sections by clicking “My Credit” under the “My Finances” tab on the top toolbar:
Account Combination. The number of open credit card accounts is higher than it should be, which indicates that you have been added as an unauthorized user without your consent.
Use of Credit. Examine your credit card debt and total credit card limit for any changes that don’t add up.
Age of Credit. Check to see if your credit history age has decreased despite the fact that you haven’t added any new cards.
Investigate anything that appears to be wrong. These red flags could indicate a credit reporting error that needs to be corrected or that someone is attempting to use your credit fraudulently.
2. Theft of Identity
Identity theft occurs when an imposter steals your personal information for financial gain, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, date of birth, or financial information. A frightening statistic: According to a recent Javelin study, 13.1 million consumers in the United States lost approximately $15 billion in identity theft in 2015.
If you are a Credit Sesame member, you will receive free identity theft protection up to $50,000. You will also be notified and alerted of any suspicious activity.
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, act quickly. You can find resources such as the Theft and Fraud Guide, letter templates, and phone numbers under the “ID Protection” tab at the top of your dashboard. Our specialists are also available to assist you. More information can be found at the top of your dashboard under the “ID Protection” tab.
3. Mistakes in Your Report
You undoubtedly want your credit report to reflect your efforts to repair your credit and raise your credit score. Mistakes in your report do occur.
The following are examples of common credit report errors:
- You never had an address or a phone number.
- Incorrect middle initial or misspelled name
- Accounts belonging to someone with a name similar to yours or a social security number similar to yours
- The same debt appears multiple times.
- Dates are incorrect.
- Accounts that have been incorrectly reported as late or delinquent
- Inadequate current balance
- The credit limit is incorrect.
- Accounts that have been closed but are still listed as open
- Accounts with multiple creditors listed that appear multiple times
- You are listed as the primary owner of an account when you are only an authorized user.
At least once a year, go over your credit report from each bureau. By visiting AnnualCreditReport.com, you can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) once a year. You can spread them out over the year or order them all at once. You should also monitor your credit on a regular basis with Credit Sesame to ensure that no errors emerge between annual reviews. When the time comes to apply for credit, you want to know that your reports are correct.
Although you may not be the cause of a credit report error, you are the person responsible for getting it fixed. To file a dispute, contact each credit reporting agency that reported the error.
4. Progress reports
Checking in to see how far you’ve come with credit improvement can boost your motivation. If you’re doing everything correctly, you should see consistent progress.
If you don’t see consistent progress, you may need to review your Credit Sesame dashboard to determine what’s lowering your score and what steps you need to take to address it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not sure how the various credit score factors affect your score. We’re here to assist you in your learning.
Credit Sesame assigns letter grades to each of the major factors that affect your credit score on your free credit report card. If you have an A for Payment History but a D for Credit Usage, you know you’re doing well with your bills but need to reduce your debt. Similarly, if your Credit Age is C, you should avoid opening new accounts and leave your existing ones open to mature.
Using Credit Sesame’s personalized tools, you can keep track of the following:
Your current debt is as follows: Under the “My Debt” tab, you can see not only your total debt, but also how much your debt has changed from the previous month. You can see your monthly debt load for the current year, as well as a breakdown of your various debts: credit cards, home loans, auto loans, student loans, and other loans, such as personal loans.
Borrowing power: The better the offers you’ll receive, the higher your credit score. Credit Sesame analyzes your credit health and recommends top offers based on your best approval odds using a proprietary algorithm. The exciting part is discovering how much credit you might be able to unlock when it comes time to borrow for a home or another major purchase.
Monitoring your credit requires some of your time and attention, but you’ll be glad you did.