Although credit scores play a crucial role in the homebuying process, a recent FindLaw.com survey found nearly a quarter of Americans have never bothered to check their credit report.
Overall, 22 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed said they've never checked their credit report even though credit reporting agencies are required to provide free copies when requested. Out of the 78 percent who said they have checked their credit report, 46 percent checked within the last year.
The survey also revealed women and households with higher levels of income were less likely to say they have never checked their credit report. When dividing responses by gender, FindLaw reported 25 percent of men never checked their report, while 18 percent of women shared the same answer.
For households where annual incomes were below $35,000, 37 percent of respondents said they have never checked their report. On the higher end of the income spectrum were respondents who made $100,000 or more, of which 12 percent said they've never checked their report. Households where annual incomes ranged from $50,000 to less than $75,000 represented the smallest share, with 11 stating they have never checked their report.
When categorizing respondents by age, the survey revealed Americans aged 35 to 44 were the least likely to say they've never checked their report, with 13 percent falling into this category.
""The accuracy of your credit report can have a major impact on your finances, and even your chances of obtaining a job,"" said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. ""Inaccuracies in information such as late payments or defaults could play a major role in whether you can obtain a home mortgage, credit card, car loan and other types of debt, and how favorable your terms will be, such as interest rates. Credit reports are increasingly used in background checks, and could determine whether you are offered a job or rental housing.""
A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealed that from July 21, 2011 to February 28, 2013, the CFPB handled around 6,700 credit reporting complaints out of 131,300 consumer complaints.