By Melanie Ayotte, Boomerang staff writer
Have you reached that point in your life when you don't need to be concerned about your credit score? I'm sorry, that was a trick question. No matter your age, you need to know that your credit report is accurate and you should know your credit score. However, in a recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the University of Arizona and Fair Isaac Corp., only one in four older adults checks their credit scores with any regularity.
"Our results from this study indicate that consumers in general, and senior citizens in particular, need to review their credit reports regularly," says Thomas H. Eyssell, associate dean and professor of finance at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and one of the authors of the study. "Seniors' lack of attention to their credit reports is troubling, given the potential for errors in consumer credit files."
No matter where you are in life, you don't want someone reporting inaccurate information about your use of credit, and you certainly don't want someone using your identity to obtain credit in your name. But knowing your credit health can be equally important looking forward. Many seniors who have paid off their homes and eliminated all debt may find that they have no credit profile or credit score later when they want or need credit. Further, most insurance companies, rental properties and some employers will review your credit report. You may pay a higher rate for insurance, be denied housing or not receive an employment offer if you have poor or no credit.
At a minimum, you should review your credit reports annually to check for errors, inaccuracies and incomplete information. Information on credit reports is automatically removed after seven to ten years, depending on the type of credit and information, but you should request corrections and dispute incorrect information on your report as soon as you find them.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order your reports, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Learn more about your credit report including how to dispute information on the report from Annual Credit Report.
While you may not see a need for good credit, knowing what is in your credit profile is important at any age. From buying a car or major appliance to downsizing your home or co-signing for a child or grandchild, knowing your credit is an easy and valuable way to keep more money in your pocket.
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