Your credit report can affect your chances of obtaining a credit card, finding housing, or even getting a job. That’s why it’s pretty surprising that nearly a quarter of Americans have never checked their credit report, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com.
Under federal law, the three major credit reporting agencies are required to provide free copies of credit reports on request. For those who are curious about their rights as consumers, FindLaw.com offers free, helpful information on credit reports and other aspects of consumer credit.
While a credit score is a numerical value credit reporting agencies use as a measure of risk, a credit report is an overview of a person's debts and payment history. The reports often include personal information, including current and former addresses, employers, and any bankruptcies or court judgments.
Credit reports are used for a wide range of purposes. Lending institutions, for example, take the reports into consideration when deciding whether to grant a mortgage or issue a credit card. Landlords, on the other hand, often use the reports when screening prospective tenants. In addition, credit reports can be used as part of employment background checks in most states.
Despite the importance and accessibility of the reports, twenty-two percent of Americans have never checked their credit report to verify the information, according to FindLaw's survey. By failing to double-check their reports, many Americans are putting their financial lives at risk.
"The accuracy of your credit report can have a major impact on your finances, and even your chances of obtaining a job," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. "Inaccuracies in information such as late payments or defaults could play a major role in whether you can obtain a home mortgage, credit card, car loan and other types of debt, and how favorable your terms will be, such as interest rates."
To learn more about credit reports and your rights as a consumer visit FindLaw.com's Financial Consumer Protection site. The site offers a wealth of information on managing your credit, creating a budget, handling credit card debt, and more.
Michelle Croteau, Director of Marketing Communications
with Corey Licht, FindLaw Audience Team