by Tracy Achen
It is important to check your credit report when you are going through a divorce. The information contained in your report will affect your ability to receive loans in the future (when you decide to buy a house, car, appliances, or whatever). Insurance companies also use this information to determine rates, and some companies run a check on all future employees before making the final decision to hire.
Since many banks and major companies use this information to base their decisions on how they will work with you, you want to take steps now to make sure you will make a good impression.
To get started, you'll need to find out what is contained in your report. If you don't have a current copy, you can get a free annual copy at AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a service directly set up by the bureaus in accordance with the FACT Act. Even though you can get copies from all three reporting bureaus at the same time, it's best to request a different one every four months. For example, get your report from TransUnion in January, Experian in May, and Equifax in September. This will let you monitor your reports throughout the year.
If there are bad marks on your report due to the negligence of your ex, you need to contact the creditor reporting the information to see what can be done. Unfortunately, they may still hold you responsible for the debt if it was a joint account. If that is the case, see if they will let you pay for half of the principle with no interest or penalties (be sure to tell them that you were never notified of this debt). Also ask them to remove the bad rating from your file.
Another thing that you want to pay attention to in your report is the address that is listed for you. For some reason, your ex’s address may appear, and this may be why you don’t receive notification of any problems.
Another reason for being turned down for a loan is having a high debt-to-credit ratio. Basically this means that you're almost maxed out on all your loans and cards. If you'll be receiving a cash settlement in your divorce, consider paying down some of these cards. If you won't be receiving any money from your divorce, at least send more than them minimum payment on each of your cards to whittle away the balance. This can really make a difference on your overall score.
If you can't keep up with the minimum payments, you need to start determining what your options are. You can avoid bankruptcy by considering debt consolidation or restructuring. By working with a counseling agency, you can secure the best possible interest rates and the lowest monthly payments to help you get out of debt.
Once you start getting your head above water, be careful to not add any new debts. Cut up all but one of your cards. Use the remaining card for emergencies only (not to buy something to lift your spirits). You can eliminate impulse spending if you use checks or cash for purchases because you can see your cash supply dwindling. With time and restraint you can secure your financial security.
Articles by Tracy Achen
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