Jun 10, 2013 Walt Wojciechowski
While it might not be something that many people think about on a daily basis, the accuracy of a person's consumer credit report is extremely important. If this data is not up to date and correct, it is possible that the individual will be denied essential services, including the loans they require to make critical purchases, when they need them most. When these incidents occur, victims may end up not only experiencing numerous inconveniences, but they will have to engage in the time-consuming process of fixing the errors. This process is not only detrimental to consumers, but because it can cause them so many problems, there are also negative effects down the line for businesses. For this reason, keeping a close eye on one's credit is positive on a broad level.
According to a recent survey from FindLaw.com, many Americans have found themselves dealing with inaccurate credit records. Among more than 1,000 adults, 23 percent said that they had experienced a problem at some point with their consumer credit report, and these issues were related to a wide range of factors. In some cases, mix-ups were to blame, such as old delinquent payments, marital statuses and addresses appearing on the files, while in others, fraud, such as identity theft, was to blame. Sometimes, respondents were even denied credit because of incorrect information.
The source explained that on a positive note, 68 percent of people who discovered an error or crime were able to find a solution to their issues. Only 18 percent were never able to fix the problems.
One crucial thing for consumers to keep in mind is that without insight into the health of their credit, they won't be able to begin the healing process. It's better to discover errors early on, before they begin to have a negative impact on one's well-being. In fact, FindLaw.com noted that a separate survey revealed that 22 percent of Americans have never checked their credit report.
It's natural for people to feel as if credit problems will never happen to them, but the fact is, these incidents are pervasive and often unpredictable. For example, one recent data breach at the University of Florida (UF) medical center may have led to identity theft for as many as 5,682 patients. The healthcare organization discovered that an employee at the UF Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Tower Square not only has ties to an identity theft ring, but that he or she may have compromised numerous individuals' personal and health information.
Susan Blair, chief privacy officer for the University of Florida, said in a statement that she was sorry that the incident had occurred and that the school is committed to developing better strategies for preventing fraud going forward. The medical center has encouraged potential victims to take action now to check that they haven't had their identities stolen, and the university has offered fraud resolution services to help them rectify the situation.
Don't risk it
For consumers, it is not worthwhile to turn a blind eye to their financial state, and this includes credit monitoring. Fortunately, if problems do arise, people have increasingly many options to turn to. For instance, taking advantage of alternative credit services can allow those who have experienced identity theft to make important purchases, even if their traditional reports have suffered. This is because many non-mainstream options harness other everyday data, such as one's record for paying utilities bills on time, which they tend to have more control over.