Check Your Credit Report

Jan. 4, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ga (WTVM) - If you haven't made a new year's resolution yet, you may want to consider one that helps tackle your finances.

Whether it's paying off credit cards or buying a house, experts say start by checking your credit report.

Scot Sikes, a small business owner remarks, "The experts tell us that we should all be looking at our credit report at least once a year."

Sound advice, especially considering experts say credit worthiness is the key to financial freedom.

Melanie Faison, a representative of NeighborWorks Columbus, says a credit report is just a financial snapshot. Faison adds it's not only used when you are going to borrow money, "... but also car insurance, it can increase your quote, your rates for car insurance, also when you're looking for jobs, people can be denied jobs because of your credit."

Federal law provides consumers with access to a free annual credit report. Georgia residents are allowed another.

Melanie Faison says it's a freebie you can't afford to pass up.

In addition to preventing identity theft, reviewing your credit report may reveal information that's not supposed to be there.

"It's human error, you have so many databases and so many...different information and each time somebody pulls your credit, say your middle initial is "M" and they put in an "N", then your credit file can be merged with someone else's credit file, said Faison.

A study from one consumer advocacy organization shows 25-percent of reports it surveyed contained serious errors that could result in denial of credit.

54-percent had demographical mistakes like misspellings and outdated information.

Overall, nearly 80-percent had some sort of error.

It may be worth making a resolution to prevent this.

Faison counsels, "Make it a habit, bi-annually to pull your credit report and correct it, send your corrected information to all three credit bureaus which are Experian, Exquifax and TransUnion."