Having and maintaining good credit is extremely important. It can make or break you when applying for a loan, buying a major purchase (like a house), applying for a credit card, and sometimes can be a determining factor for the job you applied for. Credit can be determined by how well you make on time payments, or how well you maintain your credit cards, for example. To keep up with your credit, follow these steps below.

First, get a free copy of your credit report each year. Sometimes your state can provide a free credit report, but if they do not, you can go to freecreditreport.com and pick up one. Some banks offer credit reports as well, but there may be monthly fees attached to it. Second, make sure there are no accounts that do not belong to you on your report. Sometimes common names, both first and last names, can be linked to others with the same name. Third, check to see if there are any accounts still open in your name but did not authorize, especially if you were married or had a joint account with someone. You have the right to shut down an account or dispute any detail that is inaccurate on your credit report. The last step is to familiarize yourself with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Knowing about your credit score and how to find and use your reports can be a lifesaver in many ways. When getting a credit report, remember that your social security number is your key identity. Monitoring your credit report can become obsessive after a while of keeping track of it, so it is best to make it a yearly check-up, so to speak.