As we begin the new year, have you checked your credit report recently? Many of my clients who are getting their business off the ground are so focused on the business that they may forget to also pay attention to their personal finances. Your financial advisor is probably busy making you feel more secure. They’ve implemented a plan to help you achieve your retirement goals. But what about your credit report? Has it been a while since you checked it? Consumer Reports had a good article last week about the frustrations people have with errors on their credit reports. Even though it’s been a problem for years, the credit agencies haven’t done much to make the process easier.
Consumer Reports says that the credit industry says it is taking steps to fix the problems of inaccurate credit reporting. But complaints about inaccurate information on a credit report represents 38% of all complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s more than any other category. But the CFPB and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) have done little to change the system and enforcement actions have been occasional.
Consumer Reports’ Four Guidelines
So, what can we do? Consumer Reports has four guidelines to protect your credit:
- Get Regular Copies of Your Credit Report
- Review the Reports Carefully for Mistakes
- Dispute Errors Promptly
- Get Help With Difficult Problems
These are good steps that everyone should be taking. When I was younger, I found out that some of the credit bureaus had my name misspelled. Then I also found that I was one of the many people who has a “mixed” credit file. I remember writing letter after letter, including identification and other information to try and get these all cleared up. And one of the credit bureaus, even after all that, still has my name misspelled. Instead of fixing it, they list me as “AKA Andrew Ayers,” which is pretty comical when I do the routine checks of my credit report.
While not a required part of your estate plan, it’s probably a good idea when working with an attorney and a financial advisor to add a check of your credit to the process as well. You may find that there are some things that need correcting.
If you don’t have a will yet, or if you have one that you may need to update, call my office to set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS. If you have your “team” assembled to help with your estate plan and your financial planning, it’s also important that everyone knows who to contact. Especially for your estate plan documents, it’s good to have the information in one place. To help with that, I’ve created the My Personal Planning Essentials checklist that you can download for free. Fill it out and keep it with your important documents.