If you’re like most busy Long Islanders, you’re trying to balance many responsibilities and daily tasks are not always prioritized equally. Although monitoring your credit to maintain good standing should be at the top of the list, it’s probably not a task you feel like diving into after a long day. At Jovia, we understand, and we can help. The credit monitoring service, FraudScout, is designed to help you keep an eye on your credit report and credit score, a necessary step in achieving overall financial health.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Credit
To determine loan eligibility, lenders rely heavily on the credit report and credit score.
A credit report is a detailed report of an individual’s credit history. The report itemizes past and current loans, lines of credit, mortgages and bankruptcies. It indicates the date the account was open and if any payments have been late, missed, delinquent or are in collection.
A credit score is a number between 300 – 900 that is assigned to an individual based on the information in their credit report. Key factors that determine the score are payment history, type of loan and total outstanding debt. When it comes to credit scores, higher is always better. You can use the scale below as a general guide to see how your credit score stacks up.
Good credit can be achieved when finances are managed responsibly, accounts on the credit report are up to date, and your credit score is a high number.
A clean credit report and a high credit score typically mean lower interest rates and more attractive loan terms. Whether you apply for a credit card, home mortgage, auto, boat or personal loan, attractive credit can help turn your dream purchase into a reality at a more affordable price.
Unfortunately, identity theft, fraud and errors on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score and remain on your report indefinitely. It can take months, even years, to dispute fraud, clean up errors, and correct damage to your name and reputation.
Now more than ever, with identity theft and credit fraud on the rise, an annual review of your credit report alone may not be enough to catch fraudulent activity before it impacts your score. Credit monitoring services monitor your information in real time, and notify you of suspicious activity early on, saving you time and energy down the road.
Tips for Monitoring and Maintaining Good Credit
Establish a financial routine that fits in with your busy life – not the other way around.
- Pay bills on time and don’t skip monthly payments. This will avoid late fee assessments and penalty charges which could remain on your credit report for years to come.
- Enroll in automatic payments to ensure bills are paid by the due date each month. Many companies offer a monthly discount for auto pay options, which means more cash in your pocket, just for paying your bills on time.
- Contact creditors to change payment due dates making them more manageable for your budget. Choose to stagger payments throughout the month or schedule them after pay day.
- Set a bill payment schedule that you can stick to. Determine if a weekly or monthly payment schedule aligns with your cash flow needs, and whatever you choose, be consistent.
- Pay on time and in full when possible and don’t go over the credit limit. If you must carry a balance each month, be aware of your credit limit and utilization (this directly affects your credit score!). Maintain a balance less than 50% of your available credit limit. For example, if your credit limit is $3,000, the revolving balance should remain under $1,500.
- Pay down or eliminate high-interest credit card balances. First, tackle the card with the smallest balance and put any extra cash toward that cards balance. Repeat this process every month until it’s paid off while continuing to pay the minimum due on all other cards. Then move on to the card with the next smallest balance. Apply the same monthly payment you were making to the card you just paid off, plus the minimum due and repeat monthly until that card is paid off, too. Build on this momentum until all your cards have a zero balance and you are free of credit card debt. Additionally, consider calling each credit card issuer and asking them to lower your interest rate. This is a useful technique when paying down card balances and a great option if your accounts are current and in good standing. Finally, choose one card (with the lowest interest rate or a cash back rewards program) for essential spending and put the other cards away to be used for an emergency.
Obtain and review your free credit report annually. You can request one free credit report from each of the major consumer reporting companies/credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once per year at annualcreditreport.com. If you stagger access to each report, you can receive your report three times throughout the year for free. With each review, you should examine for errors, dispute discrepancies and bring any late or missed payments up to date. You can check to confirm discrepancies are corrected when you request your next credit report.
Many financial institutions allow you to view your credit score for free. Jovia members can view their credit score for free in Online and Mobile Banking without negatively impacting their score. When you see changes to the score, it’s often a good incentive to dig further, especially if your score drops. Always check to confirm the activity which triggered a change to your score was authorized by you.
Six Key Benefits of Jovia’s Credit Monitoring Service provided by CyberScout
The FraudScout credit monitoring service helps monitor and protect members’ personal and financial information, bringing them peace of mind to focus on more important things.
Here are some of the ways our credit monitoring service looks out for your credit:
- Three credit bureaus continuously monitor credit activity, public data and court records to ensure your information remains safe.
- Detects unusual activity that can impact your credit.
- Looks for indicators that your personal info has been compromised.
- Sends email and text alerts.
- Delivers your annual credit report.
- Provides flexible options for additional protection. Choose to add social security number trace monitoring, cyber surveillance, and national sex offender registry notifications.
Enroll in Credit Monitoring Today
Online enrollment is quick and easy. Plus, Jovia offers three different plans so you can pick the credit monitoring solution to fit your budget. Click here to get started!