This is a guest post from Linsey Knerl.
Congratulations! You’ve just ordered a copy of your credit report and are well on your way to improving your score. Do you know what red flags to look on your report to keep your score safe? Today, I’ll review five things that shouldn’t escape your attention, and why it’s important to pursue a correction as soon as possible.
1. Accounts you don’t recognize
Most people are aware of how many credit accounts they have open. If you see a credit account that you don’t recall opening, however, it is something to take very seriously. Whether it’s a new credit card, a store charge account, or an inquiry for an apartment lease, you will need to take action right away.
2. Numbers that don’t add up
Credit limits can change, giving account owners a surprise if they aren’t familiar with new account terms or a recent adjustment in their borrowing power. If a loan or credit account limit seems way off, however, it’s necessary to investigate further. I also recommend that you keep a careful eye on each month’s statement so that you can quickly recall an estimated balance when you need to.
3. Employment inconsistencies
Social Security fraud and identity theft are fairly common occurrences, and a diligent review of your credit report is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not a victim. Carefully scan the employment history detailed on your report each and every time you request it. If a company or employer that you haven’t worked for appears, it’s time to make some inquiries into the matter.
4. Duplicate accounts
Once in a while, an error may be made that may cause a legitimate credit account to be listed more than one time on your report. These are fairly easy to catch, as they will appear identical. The problem is that they will contribute to the total debt owed and number of active accounts. Fixing these errors is straightforward, though it may take some time.
5. Ancient history
Negative marks on your credit history shouldn’t hang around forever. In fact, most negative information should fall off your report after seven years, giving you a fresh start to work with. If you see late payments, delinquent accounts, or collection activity after the time they should have been removed, you should follow up with the reporting agency.
Keeping your report accurate
These five errors aren’t the only things that can go wrong with your credit history. If you see anything else that concerns you, like inaccuracies, or confusing information, it’s in your best interest to dig a bit further for additional information.
Once you determine that a mistake has been made, the credit bureau will have a process in place to dispute and resolve errors. While it will take some time, the sooner you take action, the sooner you can clean up the mess.
About the author: Linsey Knerl is a staff writer for CreditScore.net. She’s written extensively about personal finance topics, while raising five home-schooled children on a farm. You can follow Linsey on Twitter @lknerl.