Of all the information that's available about you these days, none has as much impact as your credit history. This history will determine whether or not you can get credit, and how much you will pay for it. That being the case, don't you think you should know what that credit report says?

That might seem like common sense, but a poll conducted for WisePiggy.com by Op4G found that a third of Americans have not checked their credit reports within the past year. Furthermore, more than a fourth of Americans haven't taken even the most rudimentary steps to preserve the quality of their credit score.

Keeping current

The poll of 2,000 respondents found that 11.35 percent had never checked either their credit score or credit report. On top of that, 22.4 percent hadn't checked their credit scores in the past year, and 24.9 percent hadn't checked their credit reports in the past year.

Credit scores and credit reports reflect your current status, so having information that is more than a year old is little better than having no information at all. Thus, when you add people who haven't checked at all and those who haven't checked in a year, the poll shows that nearly 34 percent do not have up-to-date information on their credit scores, and 36.25 percent do not have up-to-date information on their credit reports.

Men seem a little more concerned

Overall, men seem a little more concerned with their credit than women:

  • 70 percent of men have checked their credit scores within the past year, compared with just 63 percent of women.
  • 69 percent of men have checked their credit reports within the past year, compared with just 59 percent of women.
  • 30 percent of women have taken no steps to improve their credit scores, compared with 23 percent of men who have done nothing along these lines.

Considering that the list of steps for helping credit scores includes things as simple as paying bills on time and keeping balances low, those who said they have taken none of these steps have failed to clear a very low bar for financial responsibility.

Older Americans are most negligent about credit

The poll also looked at differences in credit management by age group, and found that people in their 30s seem to be most conscious of their credit standing. In contrast, people in the oldest age group surveyed (ages 50-64) were least likely to have checked their credit scores (61 percent) or their credit reports (58 percent) within the past year. This age group was also most likely to have taken no action to improve credit.

Older people may assume that with their home-buying days behind them, they have less need to be concerned with their credit histories. However, they may still find a need for home financing options such as reverse mortgages or refinancing, and their credit card rates will still be affected by their credit standing. Finally, your credit history can tip you off as to whether you have been the victim of identity theft or other forms of fraud.

In short, your credit history is an important financial asset, and needs to be actively managed as such. Keeping an eye on your credit report is the first step.

This article originally appeared on wisepiggy.com.

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