Wittman: New year is a good time to review credit report, fix any errorsby Romi Carrell Wittman on Jan. 05, 2009, under Edge
The holidays are over and you’ve hopefully recovered from any excess cheer imbibed at your New Year’s Eve party. That said, it’s time to break out the New Year’s resolutions.
While I’m not normally big on New Year’s resolutions, there is one resolution that makes sense for everyone: getting your credit report in top shape.
With the economy in such a sorry state, it’s a good idea for everyone to cut back, stick to a budget and set some money aside in savings. But just as important is ensuring that your credit report is clean and solid.
Credit reports are reviewed by everyone from potential employers to auto and home insurance agencies as well as by lending institutions. A good credit report can help you get lower interest rates on loans and lower premiums on insurance policies.
First, you should pull your credit report by going to Annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You’ll have to pay a little extra to get your credit score.
Be sure to carefully look over all three reports. If you see something erroneous or if something looks fishy to you, immediately contact the credit bureaus to notify them of the problem. Your credit report will contain information on how to dispute such entries.
If your credit isn’t in the best of shape, you need to create a plan to repair it. However, beware of scams. Any company billing itself as a “credit doctor” with the ability to wipe negative information from your credit report is a scam.
If you need help finding a legitimate credit counselor, go to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s Web site at nfcc.org. Most debt counselors charge a fee for their services and this Web site will help you determine what fees are fair. This site also offers advice on managing consumer debt.
If you feel you’ve been had by a credit scammer, notify the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov or call (877) 382-4357.
Romi Carrell Wittman is a writer and the communication services director for Trico Electric Cooperative. E-mail: romi.wittman@ comcast.net.