Credit scores are getting more & more important
Everyone has an important number that they should know and protect.
That's your credit score.
Even if you don't plan to borrow money, it's important to know your credit score.
More and more insurance companies use credit scores to determine how much the premiums will be for your auto and home insurance.
They believe credit scores reflect how financially disciplined a borrower is and may make people less likely to file a false claim.
Many employers check credit records when deciding who to hire.
They view applicants with higher scores as more responsible and trustworthy.
If you are renting an apartment, expect to have a credit check done on you.
The amount that you have to deposit for utilities and other security deposits can be influenced by your score.
There are three major credit bureaus.
Their records will be similar but not identical.
That's because some creditors report to only selected ones, while some report to all three.
The bureau records will show how many accounts you have, type of account, payment history, credit limits and closed accounts.
Records are usually reported for seven years, even after an account is closed.
A recent Federal Trade Commission report found some discouraging results.
Five percent of Americans have at least one mistake that could cost them if considering a major purchase.
Twenty-five percent have a mistake that could affect them down the road.
Twenty percent had errors corrected after a mistake was disputed and five percent had their credit score improve 25 points after the correction.
That could save you a lot of money.
You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from all three major credit unions.
To get your copy, visit www.annualcreditreport.com - an official government website.
You should get all three reports and check them for accuracy.
If you find a mistake, write to the credit bureau and dispute the error.
You cannot have something removed that is correct, so if you were really past due, it will remain. You may discover identity fraud if there are accounts showing that you did not open.
If you had disputed a charge with a creditor it can be challenged.
Sometimes you can post explanations to try and mitigate a negative entry.
One area that causes major concerns for people and especially seniors is medical debt.
Insurance companies expect people to pay their co-insurance and deductibles.
Remember, a Bronze plan under Obamacare is designed to pay only 60 percent of the cost.
If you do not pay, it could go to collection and end up hurting your credit score.
Medical expenses are different from most purchases that we make because we often don't know the final cost when we consume the service.
They are also often some of the most expensive things that we buy.
Sometimes there is confusion about what is the actual out-of-pocket cost that we are responsible for.
If you require an expensive procedure or healthcare expense, you need to stay on top of it from the beginning.
Do not ignore these charges.
Check with your insurance company to see if they are correct.
Review your itemized bill to be sure that you received all of the services you are being charged for.
Sometimes charges can be negotiated down and request a payment plan if you cannot pay the full amount.
Small monthly payments can keep a charge from becoming past due and damaging your credit report.
Remember if delinquent charges get filed on your credit report because that will have a negative impact for seven years even if you paid them off. Keep them from appearing in the first place.
Be sure that you take steps to reduce ID theft since this will also affect your credit score.
With a lot of hard work, you can get these mistakes corrected if you did not make the purchases.
Guard your Social Security number and shred any sensitive documents.
By monitoring your credit report on a regular basis, you can sometimes stop ID theft easily before it does too much damage.
Your credit report is a very important part of your financial health. Monitor it and treat it that way.
Gary Boatman is a certified financial planner and local businessman who is president of the Monessen Chamber of Commerce.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- From Los Angeles to Belle Vernon, Mills traded music biz to teach
- Long Branch blaze under investigation
- Charleroi contractor charged for bad business
- Artistic ‘Vision’ pays off for Charleroi grad
- Belle Vernon Area brightens up a cloudy day
- Charleroi teachers raise funds to feed hungry schoolchildren
- Monongahela Area Historical Society gears up for annual Ghostwalk
- State Rep. Daley insists some Dems would vote for GOP budget