Can I accidentally damage my credit report?
Here’s how to avoid hurting your credit score without even realizing it.
When it comes to negatively affecting your credit score, some problems are obvious — like defaulting on a personal loan or declaring bankruptcy.
But sometimes it’s not so obvious. For instance, you might find that your “very good” credit score has dropped to a lower range for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Here are a few issues that you might not be aware can affect your credit score and your overall credit history.
When you move, several steps in the process can affect the health of your credit report. For example, you could forget to forward your mail, rending a lender unable to reach you for six months or more following a defaulted payment. Among the chaos of moving, the default may not be on your radar in the first place.
When you move, make sure to update your new address with your creditors and financial institutions. Consider filing a forwarding address with USPS to make sure you receive your mail for months beyond your move date.
Attempting to open new credit
Every time you apply for a loan, credit card or other credit accounts, it’s listed on your credit report. If you make too many inquiries in a short space of time, it could negatively affect your credit report and pull down your credit score.
Before you apply with a lender, find out whether they will check your credit report — what’s called a “hard pull” — as part of the process. When comparing your options, take into account whether you’re required to formally apply to receive the terms and conditions of your potential loan. Only apply if you’re looking to actually take on the credit account.
Not managing your autopay
Automated payments from your debit or credit card can be convenient and help you manage your bills and credit accounts more easily. But if your cards expire or get stolen, you’ll need to remember to set up autopay on the new cards to avoid late or missed payments. A negative payment history will end up on your credit report and could affect your overall financial standing for years to come.
Paying a utility bill late
People often misunderstand the effect that utility accounts can have on a credit score. If you have an overdue or delinquent utility account, it can be listed on your account as a default.
Curious about your credit score? Find out how to access it for free.