The UW-Extension Credit Report Reminder Campaign started in 2013 in Wisconsin to encourage individuals to check their free credit reports three times a year on 2/2, 6/6, and 10/10. The campaign’s website at fyi.uwex.edu/creditreport also provides needed resources to deal with the complexity of credit. This past year, more than 5000 learners visited the Credit Report Reminder campaign website. In addition, 145 individuals joined the UW-Extension Credit Campaign by signing up to receive emails three times a year as a reminder to check one of their three free credit reports, including individuals from Washington County. These regular reminder emails now provide that extra nudge for more than 1000 Wisconsin residents.
A person’s credit history plays an important role in many areas of life: the ability to get a loan, how much someone pays for credit and insurance, securing a job, renting a house or apartment, and preventing identity theft. It is up to individuals to make sure information in their credit reports is accurate and up-to-date, yet only 1-in-3 Wisconsin adults obtain a copy of their credit report each year – the 6th lowest rate of all states. Some people pay for credit monitoring, which is costly and usually unnecessary.
When first signing up for reminder emails, 70% of participants had not ordered a credit report in the past year, 25% had ordered one report, and 5% had ordered two or three reports. In a 2018 yearend follow-up survey completed by 238 participants, only 25% had never ordered their credit report in the past year, while 39% had ordered one report and 36% had ordered two or more reports. While the majority (81%) of those viewing their credit report found no errors or fraudulent activity, 6% contacted a creditor or credit bureau to fix an error, and 5% identified a way to improve their credit. As one Credit Campaign participant shared: I’m grateful for the email reminders to check my credit report.
UW-Extension Family Living Educators also have a better understanding surrounding the needs of learners as shown in the year end survey infographic. For example, 35% of respondents report knowing very little or nothing about how long information stays in a report, 17% know little/nothing about how information gets onto a report, and 12% know little/nothing about how information in a credit report affects a credit score. UW-Extension educators will continue to address the need for this critical information and understanding about credit reports and scores. In Washington County, visit our Extension website at https://washington.extension.wisc.edu/ or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/uwexwashco/ for ongoing promotion of the Credit Reminder Campaign, local displays, and workshops.