Should I be Monitoring my Credit?

What is a credit rating or score?

Your score indicates your overall financial health and tells potential lenders whether or not you have been responsible with your financial choices in the past. It also assesses your current level of debt. The way your score is calibrated may vary slightly by company; however, in general, your score will range between 300-850 and anything above 700 is considered to be a very good score.

Should I be monitoring my credit?

There are many good reasons to keep an eye on your credit rating. If you plan to make a major purchase, your credit score is one of the first measures that lenders will consider. Decisions like getting approved for an apartment or a credit card depend on having a decent score.

This information can be especially helpful if you want to improve your score. You should take a careful look at the items that are dragging your rating down. Many standard credit reports will give you tips that indicate where you are falling short of expectations. Perhaps if you just paid off one of your loans, or reduced a certain portion of debt, your score would substantially improve.

You also want to check your records carefully to make sure that your financial information is being reported correctly. You should make sure that it is a truthful representation of your past spending history. In addition, if someone is fraudulently using your identity, a credit report will alert you to this problem. For example, if a credit card has been taking out in your name, you might not even know about it otherwise. Examining your credit report will alert you to any red flags and help protect you against identity theft.

How can I see my credit score?

The top three credit monitoring agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can easily go online to access your information. The federal government makes this information readily available to you through the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. As a result, you can link to all of those services through a website created for that purpose: www.annualcreditreport.com.

For an additional fee, these agencies may offer regular credit monitoring on a weekly or a monthly basis. If you are concerned about fraud – for example, if you recently lost a wallet with your Social Security Card in it – this may be a good idea. However, usually checking your credit score once a year will keep you up-to-date enough to have a general idea of your financial situation. Agencies typically charge at least $15 a month for their enhanced services, so you will have decide if that extra expense is worthwhile.

Laura Gutmann

Laura Gutmann

Laura Gutmann is currently a PhD student in Education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As part of her studies, she hopes to focus on creating better resources and training materials for teachers.

Previously, she worked as the Vice President of Programs for Junior Achievement of New York. She was responsible for reaching 95,000 K-12 students per year with financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship programming. Her team organized events for schools across the five boroughs of New York City, facilitating positive relationships between classrooms and the community. Ms. Gutmann has extensive experience building curriculum focused on life skills, and has partnered with dozens of corporations to train their employees to become volunteer role models.

Ms. Gutmann also created resources for both students and educators during her time as a kindergarten teacher in the South Bronx. She first entered the classroom through the Teach for America corps, and went on to receive her M.S. Ed. in Early Childhood from Bank Street College. She has developed web resources, professional development sessions, and parent workshops, and served as a graduate-level writing tutor and resume coach.

Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Gutmann studied Public Policy at Duke University, where she received her B.A. in 2002. She worked in Durham Public Schools as a reading tutor and photography teacher. She also spent time doing research for the American Federation of Teachers, and served as a consultant for the Wake Education Partnership.

Ms. Gutmann currently resides in Chapel Hill with her husband and her dog, a poodle named Noodle.
Laura Gutmann

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