11/01/2012 05:40 pm ET

Are You Haunted By These Credit Ghosts?

It's Halloween this week and that means it's time to be scared! Children will dress up in scary costumes and run from door to door asking for candy. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, all the stores seem to ramp up their scariness quotient - stringing cobwebs and ghosts around the walls. And several channels play a week or more of scary movies to keep us up at night.

Although it's fun to be scared sometimes (especially if it means you get more candy!) there are three scary ghosts you do truly need to be frightened of - credit ghosts! These are ghosts that linger in the dark shadows and choose the most inconvenient times to jump out and say "boo!"

The Ghost of Unpaid Bills: It seems like everyone gets a flood of bills each month and I know we all do our best to keep up with them. But money is tight for some families (especially in this economy) and not all bills get paid. Unfortunately, the ghosts of these bills can come back to haunt you by dropping your credit score!

The Ghost You Weren't Expecting: When we think of the accounts that are listed on our credit reports, we might immediately think of car loans, mortgages, and credit cards -- debt that we had to apply for. But many people are surprised to discover another lingering ghoul on their credit reports: Utility bills. Yes, some utility bills are now reporting to credit agencies pretty consistently and a late payment on your power bill or an unpaid water bill might now keep you from getting that new car you were hoping for!

The Ghost of Someone Else: Most people understand the importance of good credit and work hard to achieve and maintain it. But even some of the most diligent credit-conscious consumers are surprised when their credit scores come back in worse shape than they expected... Because they are haunted by the Ghost of Someone Else! Identity theft is a growing concern and hundreds of thousands of people are victims of some form of identity theft each year.

When your doorbell rings, you might pretend to be scared by a group of kids wearing ghost costumes. And you'll hand out candy and have a lot of fun. But the ghosts you should really be scared of are the ones who never ring your doorbell... the credit ghosts!

The best defense against these three credit ghosts is to head over to and pull your credit reports. Find out what is being reported and make sure there aren't any ghosts lurking in the shadows. It's better to shine a light on them now than to discover them hidden on your credit report when you actually need to borrow money!

Have a safe and fun and happy Halloween! Email me your credit question: