Four Things to Look for When Checking Your Credit Report

If you’ve ever scanned your credit report – and you should do so annually – you’ve likely seen all the expected information: name, address, social security number, existing debts and credit applications. If you look closely, though, you may find some surprising information, as well. Here are four items you may be surprised to find on your credit report:

Accounts that Don’t Belong to You

This is an immediate cause for concern, and it happens more often that you may think. Typically, it stems from one of two scenarios: 1) the account belongs to someone who shares your name and it was mistakenly listed on your report, or 2) your identity has been compromised and someone is opening accounts using your information. In either case, you’ll likely want to file a dispute to have the account removed immediately.

Accounts You Previously Paid Off

If any of your accounts ever went to collections, they’re going to stick with you for a while – even if you paid them off completely. Accounts that are paid once in collections are likely to remain on your credit report for seven years, even though the debt has been completely settled.

Debts You Forgot About

It happens to all of us – a bill slips our mind for several months, or maybe we move and fail to provide a forwarding address to a utility company. In this case, seeing a forgotten debt on your credit report can be a stroke of luck, especially if you catch it before it’s sent to collections.

Hard Inquiries from Service Providers

We’ve all come to expect hard inquiries when we open a store credit card or consider a new auto loan, but these slight dings on your credit report can come from surprising sources, too. For instance, car rental companies are increasingly using hard inquiry credit checks, and cable providers have begun pulling credit scores with increasing frequency, as well.

Remember, it is best practice to check your credit at least annually, but there are many services that allow for monthly checks, too. Take advantage of the tools at your disposal to protect your credit report from unwanted or surprising information.

Image via Unsplash/J Kelly Brito