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The Resource Center Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring | article

Evaluate Your Behavior — Environmentally and Financially — on Earth Day

Earth Day, which takes place each year on April 22, was created to help people understand that certain human actions have had a negative effect on the health of the planet we inhabit. While you are thinking about the many ways you could change your behavior to help the environment — such as recycling more or lowering your dependence on fossil fuels — you should also use this opportunity to take a look at the financial activities you pursue to determine for yourself if they could eventually effect your credit score.

After you have made your pledge to help save the Earth, consider requesting a copy of your credit report and make a list of what practices have had a negative impact on how borrowers may be viewing you.

Request one of your three free credit reports
You can request your credit report from each of three major crediting bureaus — Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion® — since the federal government allows each of them to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every year. On this document, you'll see references to financial activity that has taken place in your name, from the number of credit cards you have out to the amount of student loan debt you had accumulated during your college years.

Understand what late payments may be holding you back
Here’s an example: If you have any long-delayed or unpaid bills that have been reported to the credit bureaus, such as for your cable or telephone provider, this will appear on your credit report. Now, should you request a loan or look into opening up a new account in your name, a lender will be able to see that you have a less-than-perfect borrowing or payment history.

Make sure that all the activity was actually committed by you
You may find when you are reviewing your credit report that some of the activity that is having a negative impact on your credit standing wasn't actually done by you. Instead, it may be that somebody has gotten a hold of your personal identification information and has been using your name to open up accounts on their own. This, in return, may run up unpaid debt and make you look less responsible than you really are.

Also, if you figure out what habits you have that have been putting a damper on your credit, you can aim to curb them. At the same time, you may want to investigate any fraudulent purchases and take steps to better safeguard your personal information. And, so that you can be alerted to certain activity — such as accounts being opened up in your name — consider enrolling in a credit monitoring program and start taking a closer look at your financial standing.