Credit scores and credit reports pop up in life more often than you may think. That's one of the reasons money gurus, financial planners and other experts continually suggest you monitor your credit.
Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles everyone to one free credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months, and free credit scores have gotten easier to obtain. (You can go here to learn how to check your annual credit reports; you can also view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)
Here are nine times you should consider checking your credit reports and/or scores.
1. You're Looking for Loan
Credit scores are used primarily by lenders looking to gauge your ability to repay a loan as agreed.
A good credit score, of course, generally entitles you to lower fees and/or interest rates. So, if you're getting ready to buy a house, lease a car, get a new credit card or apply for a personal loan, it's a good time to pull your credit and see if there's any cleaning up you should do. (You can go here to learn how to fix your credit.)
2. You're Getting Ready to Move
Credit checks aren't only reserved for people applying for a mortgage. Renters should check their credit, too, since landlords pull a version of your credit score as part of their lease application — and you don't want to miss out on the best digs.
3. You're Looking for a Job
Some employers pull your credit report, too, when they are vetting applicants. (Federal law, however, does prohibit them from looking at your actual credit score.) Pre-employment credit checks are particularly common among jobs that require you to handle money. But no matter what work you're looking for, it may be good to check your credit for errors or other problems just in case. (You can go here to learn how to dispute an error on your credit report.)
4. You're in the Market for Better Insurance Rates...
Insurers also check your credit when you apply for a policy, and a bad score could affect whether they'll do business with you and how much you'll pay.
5. ...Or a Better Cable Package
Cable and cellphone companies similarly conduct credit checks — and you could wind up paying extra fees for service if your credit is subpar.
If you're getting ready to comparison-shop for a new contract or policy, you should pull your credit ahead of filling out any applications. You can improve your scores by disputing inaccuracies, identifying your areas of opportunity and creating a plan to address those problems.
You can see the rest of the times you should check your credit on Credit.com.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.