A few months ago, I started getting emails about my Capital One credit card. It was overdue, but the company could help me with payments. This raised two flags.
- I never carry a balance on my credit cards.
- I don’t have a Capital One credit card.
I get a lot of misdirected emails (most recently, it was someone else’s medical information, which probably opens that company up to litigation), so I figured that’s what this was as well.
After the second or third message, however, I got a little nervous. What if someone did somehow open a credit card in my name and with my email address. So I called Capital One. They couldn’t have been nicer and confirmed that there were no accounts linked to my social security number.
Still, the emails kept coming.
Just to be sure, I did what I should have done earlier. I checked my credit report. I make a point to check all three reports annually using AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only site where you can get free, legitimate credit reports with no strings attached. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three credit reporting sites to give you a free copy of your credit report every single year. So if you haven’t used this site, get over there and get your credit reports!
I have been using Credit Karma to track my credit score and hadn’t seen any major drops, so I figured all was well. I’m not sure how accurate Credit Karma is, of course, but it’s better than nothing.
Not surprisingly, when I got my free credit report, I discovered that there were no new credit cards opened in my name. Everything was exactly as it should be.
What was surprising was that my credit score is much higher than I thought. Much higher than even Credit Karma indicated. I’m well seated in the “Excellent” category and that’s where I plan to stay. Of course, right now, my credit rating doesn’t mean much. I don’t plan to open any new accounts and I don’t plan to refinance my mortgage anytime soon (I’m locked in at a fabulous rate). I suppose I may be taking out a car loan at some point, depending on what the offers are. (I’m not planning to get a new car, but my car is almost 11 years old, so anything’s possible.)
To the person who likely shares my name (based on the fact that my email address is my name), start paying your credit card! You are five months behind and they are going to send you to collections! I don’t know what that’s like, but it certainly sounds scary.
And to the rest of you, go look at your credit reports. I’m sure there are no surprises there, but I always find them interesting to read.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.