You probably know about those things that will damage your credit like late payments or abusingyour credit cards. It is extremely important to pay your bills on time and o use your credit cards responsibly. However, you could be doing these things while doing things you’d never think about that are damaging your credit.
Do you even know your credit score?
Have you checked your credit score recently or ever? Many people don’t have a clue when it comes to their credit scores. Or they may know their credit score but not understand how it affects their lives. There are five categories of credit scores, ranging from Excellent to Bad (below 500). The interest rates you’re charged, your insurance premiums, and even your ability to rent an apartment or house are based on your credit score. It’s easy to get your credit score these days as there are a number of ways to get it free. Two of the easiest are CreditKarma and CreditSesame. The three reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax will also provide your credit score free though you may have to jump through more hoops to get it than with either CreditKarma or CreditSesame.
If you check your credit score and find that it’s less than 660 (Fair Credit), you may be wondering why. You’ve made your payments on time and you haven’t used credit irresponsibly. So, what goes?
Have you had a ticket?
Have you recently been pulled over and given a ticket for speeding, or maybe you ran through a radar trap, and a ticket showed up in the mail a few weeks later? Did you recently find a ticket under one of your windshield wipers? Getting a ticket will not only cost you money, it can damage your credit score.
If you did get ticketed, you need to take immediate action. You will need to either pay the fine or begin the process of contesting it. This is because if you let it sit there unpaid, it could come back in an unpleasant way. For example, your fine could be sent to a debt collector, so there would be a collection account in your credit reports. This will both damage your credit score for a long time, and will likely end up costing you more than if you had just paid the ticket in the first place.
Do you have unpaid tolls?
Most tolling today is done electronically so it’s possible to just breeze past a toll booth without paying. Whether you do this on purpose, and many people do, or if you just missed seeing the toll booth, you need to immediately go online and pay those tolls. If not, you will be billed for them at whatever address your car is registered to. If you don’t pay the tolls, or somehow missed the notice, you’ll end up seeing them on your credit report – again as a collection account.
Have you exceeded your limit?
You’ve just taken the family or your boss out for dinner at a really great restaurant. The bill arrives and you take out your credit card to pay for the meal without realizing you’re making a decision that could affect your credit score. This is because if that transaction drives up your balance high enough, it will affect your credit utilization rate. And if you don’t pay that credit card bill promptly, your credit will take a serious hit.
Do you have a pet?
Dogs and cats can be very unpredictable. They can cause damage that will affect your relationship with your landlord and even cost you a fair amount of money. Pet health care can also be very expensive. You could be looking at several thousands of dollars if your dog or cat requires surgery. If you don’t have enough cash available to pay for your pet’s care. This could cause you to have problems with your credit so, that your credit score will take a hit.
Have you been the victime of identity theft
Your identity could be stolen without you even being aware of it until the bills began rolling in. You could just click the wrong link in an email or download an attachment that looks inconspicuous, and give the intruder access to the information in your email. He could then steal your identity and use the information to open credit cards, get loans, order utilities – or just about anything – in your name. It’s taken some people literally years to recover from identity theft. Whenever you check your email, it’s important to remain security minded. A good rule of thumb is to never click on an email from someone whose name you don’t recognize people
The only way you can know that some of these ordinary things could be hurting your credit is to check your credit reports on a regular basis. You should check yours at least once a year. You can get t3hem from each of the three credit reporting bureaus or all three simultaneously on the website www.annualcreditreport.com. Some people choose to get their credit reports individually at four month intervals as this is sort of a free way to monitor their credit year-round.