The Importance of Checking Your Credit Report
It was 2000, and I had the perfect life. The perfect girl agreed to marry me (without having to drug or blackmail her), I was making more money than I ever had in my life, and I even had a dog. It was time to buy a house. I had no idea what was in store for me.
I knew that my credit was “good.” Sure, I had problems earlier, back from the college days when credit card companies threw credit cards into my 18-year-old hands knowing that I would supply the keg at the next party and take three years to pay if off with 18% interest. But I had grown smarter, and I was more responsible. I thought I knew what was on my credit report.
My fiancé and I began to look at houses with a realtor who was foaming at the mouth for her next big deal. I know now that instead of thinking about square footage and a fenced-in yard for the dog, I should have been reviewing my credit report.
We decided on a house first, and then headed off to a mortgage company. The guy ran my credit report, and there were problems. There were companies that I didn’t even recognize who had made reports about me. Two of them were collection agencies, and one was a health club that I don’t remember joining.
The next few days were troubling to say the least. I had to contact the collection agencies, who were extremely limited in the amount of information they could give me. One of them only gave me some ambiguous name of a company I’m sure I hadn’t dealt with under that name. I finally decided to do a little research into my credit report, but it was too late. These entries were from years past, and I couldn’t find out enough details to even recognize why I deserved the negative reports to the credit agencies.
A week later, someone else made an offer on the house. I was pressured by the realtor, the wife-to-be, and the mortgage company. I ended up paying lump sums to the collection agencies and the health club to get it settled. To this day, I still don’t know if these reports were errors or if I just had some kind of mental lapse.
I learned an important lesson, as I had less money to put down on the house and pay closing costs. Not to mention the higher interest rate I had to pay to get the mortgage loan! When I made the decision to buy a house, I should have begun reviewing and fixing my credit report. I have now invested in a “credit monitor” that gives me updates on my credit report throughout the year. There has already been one error that was relatively easy to fix. If I had taken the time to do this before the largest purchase I will probably ever make in my life, I could have saved money and gotten a lower interest rate. Lesson learned.