Finding Your Credit Score
Credit scores are remarkably helpful to both consumers and lenders alike. If you don’t watch them carefully, credit scores can put your future at risk. Lenders such as banks and credit card companies, use your credit score to evaluate the risk of lending you money. Based on your score, many lenders will decide whether or not to give you a loan or issue you a credit card, as well as determine interest rates and credit limit. It can also be difficult to rent an apartment, buy a cell phone or insurance with a poor credit score. And until you work to raise your credit score, you will have plenty of trouble getting home loans, auto loans or any other loans you may need in the future. Here are a few things you should know about finding your credit score.
How to Find Your Credit Score
To find out your credit score, there are a number of websites you can use that will help you better understand your score. Websites such as Credit Sesame and Credit Karma offer free credit reports after signing up. Credit Karma shows your credit scores provided by Equifax and TransUnion which are two consumer credit reporting agencies. You can also go to those agencies’ websites directly, but you’ll have to pay for their report services. Experian also offers paid credit reports with your FICO score, which is the most accurate and common measure of your credit used by a majority of banks and credit grantors. And of course you can go through the official website, myFICO.com and get your score there for a price.
Monitoring Your Credit Report
Once you can check your credit score, you will want to monitor it regularly for new debts and unauthorized transactions (which are red flags for identity theft). The credit services we mentioned above can help by offering credit monitoring services. These services for customers include everything from personalized report cards on credit habits to real-time credit alerts that can highlight unusual account activities.
Monitoring your credit score can help you keep it from falling too far. If your score falls below the fair range (650 or lower), you’ll need to consider finding ways to repair your credit. To get or maintain an excellent credit score, most importantly, you’ll need to make all of your payments on time and use your credit card as little as possible. You’ll also need to limit derogatory marks caused by bankruptcy, accounts in collections and tax liens among other things. The best credit report services have tools and resources to help customers repair their credit scores, but monitoring your credit is the best way to avoid this situation.
Preventing Identity Theft
These days, preventing ID theft is just as important as monitoring your credit score. Companies such as LifeLock and IDshield offers some of the best identity theft protection plans for stopping identity theft before it wrecks your finances. These companies offer credit monitoring, email alerts, password protection and more; you can even see whether your personal information is appearing on the dark web. These services also offer helpful resources for people who’ve been victimized by ID theft. They’re highly affordable, especially with some plans offering family pricing.
Credit monitoring services can help people monitor their credit and stay out of financial trouble. Secured credit cards are terrific ways to rebuild credit, and preventing ID theft is invaluable, but keeping your credit score in the “fair” range or above is the best way to protect your finances. Regardless of how you do it, your credit score will follow you wherever you go, so make sure you are taking care of it.