Once upon a time, your credit report was used for one thing: Lenders factored it into their assessment of your credit worthiness.
Based on your past behavior, how big of a risk are they taking that you won't repay the loan on time? You credit score then helps them determine your interest rate, your cost of borrowing money.
But increasingly, credit scores are being used for much more, making it more important than ever that your credit report is accurate. Credit bureaus make thousands of errors a year, and they might have made one on yours.
You can obtain your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. And at Vantage Acceptance, we can look at it with you. If we see a mistake, we will dispute it with the credit bureaus until we get it corrected.
Why is an accurate credit report more important than ever? Here are four ways credit reports are being used today that have nothing to do with obtaining loans:
- Auto and homeowners insurance - Up to 95 percent of auto insurers and 85 percent of homeowners insurers use your credit scores to compute your credit based insurance score, which becomes one of several factors that determine the rate you pay, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. They do this because research has shown high correlations between lower credit scores and a person's likelihood of incurring losses that are covered by insurance. The credit-based insurance score considers five factors: payment history (40 percent), outstanding debt (30 percent), credit history length (15 percent), pursuit of new credit (10 percent), and credit mix (5 percent).
- Renting an apartment - When landlords run a background check on a prospective tenant, one of the most important factors they consider is your credit score. They consider it a good indicator of whether you will make your monthly rent payment on time. Most landlords will be very hesitant to rent to an applicant with a credit score below 650, according to radpad, the apartment rental service.
- Utility companies - When you move into a new home and need to set up utilities such as water, gas and electric, most utility companies will check your credit history, including your record of paying timely making utility payments at past addresses, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If your score is too high, they likely will require you to pay a deposit before connecting you with service.
- Getting a job - When you apply for a job, the prospective employer is allowed under federal law to view an employment credit report, which contains much of the same information as a credit report but omits some things in order to comply with equal employment opportunity laws, according to credit reporting agency Experian. Traditionally, employers seeking such information most have included companies in the financial services, defense, pharmaceutical and chemical industries because of the sensitive nature of those jobs. But other employers are increasingly checking your credit, seeking more insight into your integrity and honesty.