Money Talk Tip: Take control of your personal information
Understanding and managing your personal information is essential to achieving your life goals such as owning a home, financing an education, getting your next job or simply having the convenience of credit cards for everyday purchases.
Banks, landlords, employers and many others need to authenticate your identity and evaluate your creditworthiness to determine whether they can trust you to make payments if they lend you money. This credit behavior determines a person’s credit score.
So, how do you take control of your personal information and maintain good credit health? Here are a few key tips for financial health empowerment:
Monitor your information regularly: According to TransUnion’s July 2017 Credit Literacy study, almost half of consumers thought checking your own credit score has the same effect as when a lender checks it. Fortunately, this is not the case. When you check your information, it is usually reported as a soft inquiry and ultimately does not impact your score. Checking your information regularly is encouraged and should be part of a habitual routine, much like regular exercise.
Make payments on time: Paying your bills on time and in full each month will show that you are reliable and more likely to pay back debts. Doing so will help grow your credit score, but remember, consistency is key. If you have missed a payment in the past, getting back on track and paying off debt should be a top priority. Having a positive history of on-time payments shows responsible behavior.
Don’t use all your available credit: It is recommended to maintain a low credit utilization ratio, that is, how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time. This suggests to creditors that you can use credit responsibly and do not rely on it too much. It is recommended that you use no more than 30 percent of your available credit.
Building credit takes time: Building and maintaining a track record takes time, responsible financial behavior and smart credit usage. Therefore, it is important to start early and understand the implications of your decisions.
Protect your information: You have a vital role to play in controlling who has access to your information, and there are tools readily available to do this. Protecting your information from fraud is critical.