Have You Checked Your Credit Report Lately?
Nashville, Ark. –
Why should I check my credit score?
We have all seen advertisements for “free credit report”, “keep a good credit rating”, or “no matter what your credit rate is” …but what does it really mean? A credit report is a summary of how you use and pay financial obligations. People who have a high credit score, receive the lowest interest rates, and best offers on loans and/or insurance. Lenders, insurance companies and even potential employers may make decisions based on your credit score as an indicator of financial responsibility. However, few Americans are checking their credit score regularly.
According to a survey conducted by CreditCards.com, about half of all adults in the U.S. haven’t checked their credit score in the last six months. Checking your credit report regularly makes it more likely to catch potential fraud on your report. It is one of the best ways to monitor for fraud and identity theft.
How do I check my credit report?
Here are some tips to checking your credit report and building your credit score.
- Spread out credit checks. Consumers may check their credit report from each of the credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion once a year free of charge. Your credit report can be found on annualcreditreport.com. A credit report is different from a credit score. Your credit report is the list of all the things that effect your credit score. There is a fee for checking your credit score. It is wise to check your credit report three times a year from the credit bureaus. In other words, check your credit report from Experian in February, check the next time with Equifax in mid-summer and finally check your credit report with TransUnion in late fall. You will avoid having to pay for the credit check and you will be able to monitor your credit activity for fraudulent activity.
- Know what’s on your credit report. Your credit report provides a history of your use of credit. It will include personal information such as your employer and current and previous addresses. It also includes information about current and past installment loans and revolving accounts. If you see something suspicious, report it.
- Know what impacts your credit score. Points are rewarded for items on your credit report that show you are likely to repay debt. Negative factors of your credit score include late payments, overdue notices, collection agency actions, bankruptcy, and tax liens. The total number of points equals your credit score.
- Know what your score means. Credit scores may vary among bureaus because they may have slightly different information and use different scoring models. Two commonly use scoring models are FICO and Vantage Score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Most people score in the 600s. If you have a FICO score above 700, you may qualify for more credit and lower interest rates. A score below 600 could mean high interest rates, low credit limits or even denial of credit. Vantage Score Models 2 and 3 use the 300 to 850 range. Vantage Score Model 1 uses a 501-990 range.
- Build or improve your credit score. Always pay bills on time and keep credit balances low compared to credit limits. Use a variety of types of credit, like having installment loans and revolving credit.
Credit can be confusing. For more information on managing credit, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517. I will be glad to send you the fact sheet, “Credit Reports and Credit Scores”. Our office is located on the second floor of the courthouse. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Creamy Italian Soup Recipe
This recipe was featured at a recent 4-H Healthy Habits Cooking Experience that was conducted via Facebook live. Those who participated loved the recipe. It is perfect for cold nights!
- 1 ½ cups Italian Sausage
- ¾ cup onion, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- 2 large russet potatoes, diced
- 2 cups kale, destemmed & cut/torn into bite-size pieces
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook sausage until browned and no longer pink. Transfer to a plate to drain.
- Add onion to pot and let cook until soft, 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add chicken broth and potatoes to pot and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Stir in kale and let cook until leaves are tender and bright green. 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream, sausage, and bacon and simmer 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve. Yield: 4 servings
Note: To reduce calories, fat and sodium replace heavy cream with skim milk. Reduce the amount of bacon to 3 pieces and use as a garnish before serving. Use low sodium chicken broth.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories - 315, Fat - 17.5g, Sodium - 222.6mg, Carbohydrates - 34.4g, Fiber - 4.7g, Protein - 7.3g
By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
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