Credit scores and credit reports can impact so many facets of American life. Not only are they used to determine interest rates on things like credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans, they can also indicate that you’ve been caught up in a data breach. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to check your credit — and data shows that 40 percent of Americans might not be taking this crucial step. We learned this and more about how people manage their credit through a recent survey of 1,000 adult Americans. Here’s more about what we learned.
The Survey on Credit Awareness Says:
1. The Majority of People Check Their Credit —
— but that still leaves a significant number of people who don’t. In our survey, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they’ve checked their credit reports before, and 67 percent said they’ve checked their credit scores.
Broken down further, 30 percent of respondents said they check their credit reports more than once per year.
As for credit scores, 36 percent check more than once per year.
This is a sign that people are tuning in to both the information on their credit reports and how that translates into their credit scores. However, that still leaves more than 40 percent of respondents who’ve never checked their credit reports and nearly 33 percent who’ve never checked their credit scores.
In short, the majority of people are aware of their credit, but there is still a large percentage of the population who are in the dark.
2. People Want to Keep Tabs on Their Scores
It’s easy to assume that people who do regularly check their credit reports do so because they want to prepare for a large purchase, such as a home or car. However, our survey showed that most people checking are interested in one thing: Keeping tabs on their credit information and/or their scores.
To be more specific, 45 percent of respondents who said they check their credit scores do so for that reason. Compare that to just under eight percent checking to prepare for a mortgage, nearly three percent preparing to buy a car, and under four percent preparing to take out some other form of credit. Ten percent said they check due to worries about identity theft.
In short, it looks like many of us are checking our credit to see where we stand and to monitor our progress.
3. Most Want to Fix Errors — A Problem for Those Who Don’t Check
One of the most interesting findings to come out of our survey is that 74 percent of respondents said they’d dispute a credit report error if they found one. This is great news, as credit report errors can needlessly drag down your credit scores.
That said, if we go back to the question asking people if they’ve ever checked their credit reports in their lives, 41 percent said no.
It would be really tough to find an error on one or more of your credit reports if you’ve never actually seen one of your credit reports.
The relationship between credit report disputes is an important one. If credit report mistakes are dragging your credit scores down, then that result could stand in the way of your future credit opportunities. Respondents seem to understand this importance, as 65 percent said they’d dispute a credit report error if they knew how much it would improve their credit scores.
So, how many respondents who’ve checked their credit saw an error on one or more of their credit reports? Twenty-one percent. What’s more, 20 percent said they’ve disputed an error, and 15 percent said they subsequently saw an increase in their credit scores.
All in all, it’s clear that those checking their credit and finding errors are doing something about it, many of them seeing direct results on their credit scores. That still leaves a large number of people who would want to do something about an error but won’t know they have one unless they establish a new habit of checking their credit reports.
How to Improve Your Credit Awareness
If these results have done anything to convince you of the importance of staying on top of your credit, your next question might be how. More specifically, how to do so without letting credit management take over your life?
The answer is easy. There are more tools than ever to help, from those that help you check your credit reports to those that help you check your credit scores, and even some that enable you to dispute credit report errors (Upturn Credit being one such tool that enables you to do all of the above). Here are three articles to help you find such tools:
- 15 Ways You Can Get a Free Credit Score
- How to Get Your Credit Reports for Free
- Credit Solutions You Need to Know About
And here are a few articles to help you understand the basics of credit:
- What Are Credit Reporting Agencies?
- What Are Credit Scoring Companies?
- Credit Scores vs. Credit Reports: What You Need to Know
- What You Should Know About How Credit Scores Are Formulated
- How Many Credit Scores Do I Have?
- Credit Score Ranges: Why You Should Know Where You Stand
And a few to help you learn the basics of disputing credit report errors:
- How to Find Mistakes on Your Credit Report
- How Does a Dispute Work on Your Credit Report
- 10 Terms You Should Know When Disputing Your Credit Report
All in all, you can raise your credit awareness by following the basics of checking your credit report at least once per year (and your credit scores as often as you like) and being mindful of changes and errors that could show up on your reports. If you combine that with disputing errors if they should arise, then you can be sure you’re working towards the credit scores you deserve.