9 credit report myths you need to know

The credit report can seem like one of the most confusing things on the planet. Not only are there several credit bureaus tracking all your credit information, but each collects, analyzes and reports your data in slightly different ways.

Because the credit reporting system is somewhat complicated, numerous credit report myths circulate. Here are the top 10 you should know:

1. Checking my credit is unnecessary if I pay my bills on time.

Many people think that just because they pay their bills on time, they don’t need to check their credit report. However, your credit information can become compromised due to an error or even fraud, and the fastest way to catch these issues is by regularly checking your reports. So just because you pay bills on time doesn’t mean that there isn’t an inaccurate account ruining your credit, or worse, that someone else hasn’t stolen your identity and opened numerous accounts in your name.

2. I’ll hurt my credit score if I check my own reports.

The difference between a hard pull and soft pull is the reason why checking your own credit reports will not impact your score. A hard credit pull is used by lenders and creditors to review all of your credit information; several hard pulls within a short period of time generally impacts your credit negatively. However, a soft pull does not — soft pulls allow individuals to review their own reports, as well as lenders, employers, landlords and others to review limited data from your credit reports.

3. Paying off a debt will remove it from my credit reports.

Some borrowers are often very frustrated to learn that after they’ve paid off a debt, it isn’t automatically removed from their credit reports. Negative entries generally aren’t removed for seven years, and as many as 10 years for serious delinquencies, foreclosure or bankruptcy (as long as the entry is correct, that is — errors will be taken off once identified with the bureau).

4. Only one entry per debt will display on my reports.

If you owe money to a company that has sold the debt to a collection agency, both accounts might show on your credit report. This means you could have two negative entries on a credit report for a single debt.

5. Canceling an old card will hurt my credit history.

One of the most prevalent credit myths out there, canceling your oldest credit card will not reduce your credit history and therefore, negatively impact your credit. Closed accounts will remain on your reports, often longer than negative entries. However, closing a card with a big limit when you have outstanding debt could affect your credit utilization ratio, so be sure to close accounts only when you have a small line of credit or zero balance among all your cards.

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