Each year I look forward to checking out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's Consumer Financial Literacy Survey. The NFCC has been sponsoring this report for six years now, and the results are generally released around the beginning of April in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month. As in previous years, the 2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey includes some pretty alarming statistics surrounding credit reports and credit scores. Here's what really caught my eye as I perused the key findings in this year's report.
Most Americans Don't Check Credit Reports or Credit Scores
According to the survey, 62 percent of adults said that they haven't reviewed their credit reports during the past 12 months, and 55 percent said they haven't reviewed their credit scores. I would argue that these percentages could be underestimated too, since this was a telephone survey and I imagine some people might be embarrassed to admit over the phone that they are completely clueless regarding their personal credit situation.
In addition, if we were to qualify what "credit score" we're talking about and ask if those surveyed actually reviewed their FICO scores, I think the results would be even worse than 55 percent. Many of the credit scores consumers purchase or view for free aren't their real FICO scores, even though they may not realize that's the case.
Regardless, 62 percent and 55 percent are disturbing numbers, and we unfortunately haven't seen much improvement in these areas at all over the years. It's the 62 percent number that really bothers me though. Why? Because all of us are allowed to get free credit reports each year from every one of the major credit reporting agencies, and it literally takes less than five minutes to download your credit report via annualcreditreport.com.
Celebrate Financial Literacy Month & Check Your Credit Reports
Even if you don't care what your credit scores are, you should at the very least be checking your credit reports once per year to make sure there aren't any errors or indicators of fraudulent activity. If your credit reports are clean, then there's a strong chance your credit scores are fine too. So if you can only find the time or the desire to do one thing in honor of Financial Literacy Month this year, check your credit reports today. Trust me, it'll be worth five minutes of your time. Photo by Morgan