One of the most important aspects of consumers’ ability to keep their credit healthy and generally protect their finances may be one that gets overlooked these days.
The rise in online billing statements and other factors might cause consumers to be less vigilant in regularly checking their monthly financial documents, such as credit card bills and bank statements, and that can cause major problems, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press. When consumers fail to check these documents, they won’t notice what may be inaccurate charges to or unexpected deductions from their accounts, and these can have major implications.
For example, unauthorized charges or deductions may be a sign of identity theft, or simple errors, that can have significant negative impacts on borrowers’ finances, such as higher credit card bills, and if they go unnoticed for an extended period of time, it can be difficult or even impossible to have them stricken from a borrowing or account history.
Often, lenders or banks will allow consumers to dispute charges and account entries within a certain period of time, though it’s typically far longer for credit cards than for bank accounts. Therefore, it is vitally important to check all monthly account information closely for any inaccurate or questionable entries. If they’re not disputed in a timely fashion, consumers are often responsible for them regardless of how they ended up on an account.
The same can also be said for a consumer’s credit report, because these documents often contain information that effects not only immediate finances, but also their ability to borrow. Consumers are allowed to order three free copies of their credit report per year – one from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus – but some states allow for more than that. Ordering this document and looking it over closely can help consumers find any problems that may be having an adverse effect on their credit standing.
In most of these cases, contacting the credit bureau about what may be a questionable entry on their credit report can resolve this problem, though it’s very likely that the consumer will have to provide proof that they’re not responsible for the entry being disputed.
Keeping close tabs on all aspects of their financial standing is vital to consumers’ overall credit health.
Image: jonny2love, via Flickr