Take control of your personal information

(BPT) – Understanding and managing your personal information is essential to achieving your life goals such as owning a home, financing an education, getting your next job or simply having the convenience of credit cards for everyday purchases.

Banks, landlords, employers and many others need to authenticate your identity and evaluate your creditworthiness to determine whether they can trust you to make payments if they lend you money. This credit behavior determines a person’s credit score.

So, how do you take control of your personal information and maintain good credit health? Here are a few key tips for financial health empowerment:

Monitor your information regularly: According to TransUnion’s July 2017 Credit Literacy study, almost half of consumers thought checking your own credit score has the same effect as when a lender checks it. Fortunately, this is not the case. When you check your information, it is usually reported as a soft inquiry and ultimately does not impact your score. Checking your information regularly is encouraged and should be part of a habitual routine, much like regular exercise.

It’s important to understand both what helps build credit and what negatively affects your credit. Once you are well-versed in your information, you are taking one important step toward being in control and can better inform your choices and be empowered to make the right decisions. There are many solutions available that provide easy access to your information, including TransUnion Credit Monitoring.

Make payments on time: Paying your bills on time and in full each month will show that you are reliable and more likely to pay back debts. Doing so will help grow your credit score, but remember, consistency is key. If you have missed a payment in the past, getting back on track and paying off debt should be a top priority. Having a positive history of on-time payments shows responsible behavior.

Don’t use all your available credit: It is recommended to maintain a low credit utilization ratio, that is, how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time. This suggests to creditors that you can use credit responsibly and do not rely on it too much. It is recommended that you use no more than 30 percent of your available credit.

Building credit takes time: Building and maintaining a track record takes time, responsible financial behavior and smart credit usage. Therefore, it is important to start early and understand the implications of your decisions. For example, closing your oldest credit card account could end up negatively impacting your score. However, every situation is different, depending on a person’s account history, fee structure or rates.

Protect your information: You have a vital role to play in controlling who has access to your information, and there are tools readily available to do this. Protecting your information from fraud is critical. As part of TransUnion’s ongoing commitment to empowering consumers to understand and manage their information and achieve financial health, it offers a range of solutions. To complement credit monitoring, Lock Alert is a new, innovative feature that automatically sends an alert to members whenever a request for their locked or frozen credit report is made in connection with an application for new credit.

With the right information, tools and responsible financial decisions, you will be on the path to taking control of your information, leading to good credit health and the opportunity to achieve your dreams.

For more information, visit TransUnion.com.