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Credit Checking Is a Wise Step to Take

If you are not checking credit for yourself on a fairly consistent basis then you might want to read this.

Major changes in your life like divorce, marriage, buying a home, getting your first credit card and so on often times cause swings in your credit score up or down.
Here is an example of how not checking your credit reports and credit scores can impact your credit rating, unbeknownst to you.

I had a client who wanted a credit report check done for him.  He thought he might have some negative items due to some credit issues with his ex-wife.  They had divorced about two years prior and he though she had left him with some unpaid credit card debt.

When we got his credit bureau reports he was surprised to find that a car that he and his ex-wife had jointly purchased prior to the divorce was showing  up as a collection on his credit report.  He knew the car had been totaled in a wreck and that it had been covered by insurance and that the insurance company had paid.

The second item that came as a surprise to him was a collection item for an unpaid telephone bill.  Even though small this collection was negatively impacting his credit scores.

In follow up on these two items he found that the insurance company had indeed paid for the car and he was able to obtain the necessary documentation needed to show this and send this to the credit reporting agencies in order to get this item cleared in his credit file.

He also found that his ex-wife had used his social security number and name to obtain a phone shortly after their divorce and then never paid the last bill.

He chose to payoff this bill in order to get this negative item off his credit report.
The lesson learned here is that you may think because you haven't done anything to cause negative credit does not necessarily mean that there are not incorrect or negative items in your credit file.

I have also seen this be the case with parents and their grown children.  I once  had an older couple whose daughter had used her mother's social security number with an electric company in order to have the power turned on at her new apartment.  She was having the bill mailed to her apartment address and the parents never knew that she had done this until they had their credit report retrieved when they were attempting to get financing to purchase a new home.  The daughter had let the power bill go unpaid and it was finally cut off with the balance due becoming a collection item in the mother's credit file.

Checking credit for yourself periodically is not a bad idea, regardless of your personal situation.  If you are recently divorced then you might want to sign up with a credit monitoring service for a while in order to receive alerts when any shift in your credit scores occurs.  Some credit monitoring services allow you to obtain free credit score when you first sign up in order to assess where you stand at that point.

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