By Gerri Detweiler
Several years ago, my father received a letter from his auto insurer saying he didn't get the highest discount due to his credit score. Until then, he had no interest in checking his credit. After all, he pays his bills on time and rarely has a need to borrow. Why bother?
He's not alone. Some 38% of consumers surveyed have not seen their credit scores recently in the past year, and 17% have never seen their scores at all. That's according to research by LexisNexis and Javelin Strategy and Research. The reason more than half (57%) of those age 25 and older gave for never reviewing their scores? They aren't interested in seeing them.
In other words, they just don't care.
If you're among those consumers, I can explain to you how strong credit scores can save you money, and point out that your credit reports may contain mistakes that are raising your interest rates and causing you to lose out on the best discounts on your auto or homeowner's insurance. I'll tell you that monitoring your credit scores can alert you to changes to your credit reports which, in turn, may help you catch identity theft faster if you become a victim.
Maybe you're not worried about any of that right now. That's fine.
But someday that may change. And if you wait until then, it may be too late.
Why Your Credit Score Matters
Let's say you find a house for sale and fall in love. In today's hot real estate market in much of the country today, you may need to get preapproved for a mortgage ASAP so that your offer will be considered seriously. What happens if you find a mistake that takes 30-60 days to clear up?
Or how about if you are a victim of a natural disaster and need access to credit to make repairs while you wait for your insurance company to write a check? Are you really going to want to deal with your credit report then?
You could lose your job and find that you need access to low-cost credit to start that small business you have always dreamed of owning. Starting a business is time-consuming enough without adding another item to your to-do list.
Perhaps you'll have to relocate to be closer to family or a new job, and you'll have to get a mortgage to finance your new home while you try to sell your current one.
The point is, life happens. And when something does come up that throws a wrench in your plans, will you really want to find yourself worrying about checking -- and perhaps working on -- your credit reports and scores?
Do yourself a favor and get your free credit reports and free credit score now, when you aren't pressed for time or under the gun to get approved for a loan.
By the way, in the same survey, 7% of consumers over the age of 25 who had never checked their credit scores said they didn't want to pay the associated fees. For them, the good news is they can get one for free every single month using Credit.com's Credit Report Card. That's one more excuse knocked off the list.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com. Gerri Detweiler is Director of Consumer Education for Credit.com.