You've got your credit report, you've reviewed all your accounts, and you now know that nothing is amiss on your payment history. That's it, right? You're good to go?
Not so fast. Did you review the personal information section? Since reviewing credit reports is about as fun as going to the dentist, it's understandable to want to get through it as quickly as possible. However, the personal information section -- which is the easiest to breeze past -- can be a minefield of errors. Here's why you should give that section a closer look, and how doing so can be one of the easiest ways to protect your credit.
The most critical step in credit report review
The goal when reviewing the personal information section on your credit report is to make sure your name is spelled correctly, any addresses listed are or were yours, that your social security number has been entered correctly, and so on. Believe it or not, a mistake relating to your personal information can be one of the most damaging to your credit report, and thus your credit scores.
Imagine this. You've never checked your credit report, but you've also never made a late payment. There's no need to check, you might think, because you're on top of your credit game. Then, one day, you get your credit report and notice a few accounts listed that aren't yours. So you look more closely and find that the social security number has transposed two of your digits. What's happened here? In that instance, it could be that someone else's accounts -- a person who actually has the social security number that's been mistakenly entered on your report -- is showing up on your report.
This isn't good to start with, but now imagine what could happen if that person goes delinquent on their accounts. Your report and your credit scores are the ones that'll suffer. Don't skip this step and don't pass go until you're 100 percent sure that all of your personal information has been entered correctly on all three of your credit reports (which you can get for free on AnnualCreditReport.com.)
Keeping your credit secure
In a perfect world, we'd all be reviewing our credit reports on the regular to ensure that mistakes aren't dragging down our credit scores. But, even if we do, it's critical to review the reports closely. Once you've checked all the information on your report, personal information included, you'll still have to check again. Keep reviewing every part of your credit reports every time you pull up a new report. This is one simple, fast, and easy way to keep your credit secure. And that means getting credit approval when you need it -- and at the lowest possible interest rate.
Reviewing your credit reports doesn't just keep your identity secure, it can save you money if you find and dispute any errors that are hurting your score. This could, in fact, be one of the most important items on your financial to-do list.