May 6, 2021
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute 2021 Retirement Confidence Survey, more than half of workers and a third of retirees said that debt was a major problem in their household. Too much debt can negatively impact your credit score, which banks and other lenders use to determine whether to approve your credit card or loan request and how much interest you’ll pay. That’s why it’s important to check on your creditworthiness on a regular basis. You’re entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Through April 2022, you can also receive free credit reports every week from these agencies. These reports will include your current FICO credit score, which is based on how much total debt you owe, your on-time payment record, and how long you’ve held different loans and credit cards. Any credit score above 700 is considered to be very good. Your credit score can change on a weekly basis, and the best way to raise it is by reducing your outstanding debt balances and making on-time payments. Another good reason to check your credit reports on a regular basis is to identify any errors that may negatively impact your score or to make sure that identity thieves haven’t opened fraudulent accounts under your name. To prevent future fraud, you can place a credit freeze through all three credit reporting agencies. This will prevent criminals from being able to open credit cards or loans using your stolen personal information, and you can “unfreeze” at any time. To help your children begin to establish their credit history without falling into a debt quagmire, encourage them to apply for a credit card with a low credit limit or one that’s secured by a deposit. And if you’re planning to co-sign a loan for a child or a relative, make sure you monitor their payments, since their delinquency will negatively impact your credit score.