You may think, like many people, that your credit history is only important when you want to borrow some big money, such as to buy a house or car. It's true that lenders do pay a lot of attention to your credit report and/or credit score when loaning you big bucks. But increasingly, your credit report is being looked at by more and more people, in regard to smaller and smaller amounts of money. At least, that's what I've learned on our discussion boards (try them for free for 30 days).

On the Owning Rental Property board, landlords are discussing how they perform credit checks on potential tenants. Donna405 said: "I always require my resident(s) to provide a credit report which is no older than 10 days and a criminal background check, to be returned to me with the rental application." JonathanRoth added: "We joined a local apartment owners/manager's association they provide a credit check service and a very informative monthly magazine. The tenant pays the credit-check cost as part of the application submission fee."

Over on the Living Below Your Means board, I learned of additional credit checks. Myplanet1 was surprised that a bank ran a credit check just because a bank account was being opened. Rosewine said, "I was astonished to find that the car dealer checked my credit when I told them I was writing a check to pay for the car." TamarianG noted, "It's getting to the point where your credit report is pulled for everything! Cell phone companies, dance studios (EXCUSE me? No, you don't get to run a credit report on me! My daughter can learn to stand on her tippy-toes somewhere else, [thank you very much]!), even the cable companies are starting to jump on the 'get as much personal info as possible in an attempt to figure out who is and is not a good consumer' bandwagon."

If you don't like this new development, you can, like TamarianG, try to take your business elsewhere when possible. But it won't always be possible -- or sensible. Sometimes, for example, to get the best deal on something, you'll have to agree to a credit check. So one thing worth doing is to maintain a healthy credit history and a clean credit report.

You can learn all about how to maximize your credit rating in our Credit Center, which also offers a special deal on getting copies of your credit report, so you can make sure it's correct. (Astonishingly, there's a very good chance that your report has errors on it.)

Read about all things credit-related on our Consumer Credit / Credit Card discussion board.

And if you're mired in credit card debt, don't despair -- you can get out of debt and build a beautiful credit score. Really!