Have you checked your credit report lately? If not, financial experts say you should be looking at it a few times a year.
The latest CompareCards by LendingTree survey found that just 33% of Americans checked their credit report in the past year, down from the two previous years.
"Lots of people obsess over their credit score but very few people, only about a third of people, check their credit report in a given year," said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst for LendingTree. "And while the credit score is really important, it's really just a numerical grade of your credit report."
"It's important for people to check your credit report because its essentially a road map of every loan and every bit of credit that you have and it's really one of the few places that you can go to see all of that together," Schulz added.
The drop in people checking their credit reports comes despite the fact that the three major U.S. credit bureaus have made free reports easier than ever to get.
"The best way to get your credit report from all three major credit bureaus for free with no strings attached is through a site called annualcreditreport.com," Schulz said. "It's a site that was mandated by federal law to allow people to check their credit report. The good news is you can get that credit report once a week now for free; previously it had only been once a year. "
Schulz urges consumers to resist data breach fatigue. They have become so common, you may not pay attention to them anymore, but identity theft is still a problem and you need to keep your guard up.
He said you should get your free credit report multiple times a year to make sure everything is in order.
Be sure to check on reporting of forbearance or deferrals. Millions of Americans have received breaks on loan payments during the pandemic. They shouldn't impact your credit, but it's important to check for mistakes and make sure.
And make identity theft checks routine. Make sure you're looking at your online credit card and bank statements weekly and are reviewing passwords periodically.
"The most important thing to remember," said Schulz, "is nobody cares as much about your credit as you do, so you need to act."
He said no one really needs to check their credit report weekly, but the ability to check it a few times a year is a good thing. Especially in tumultuous times like now, when having good credit can be really important.
And always be wary of who you give your personal information to. Be careful if you're asked to provide your entire social security number in an online form.