Americans are a restless bunch — each year, more than one out of every 10 move across the country (nearly 36 million people between 2012 and 2013, according to the U.S. Census1).
Given the flurry of activity that comes along with relocating— finding a new home, packing your stuff, hiring movers— protecting your credit can easily fall by the wayside. To avoid an accidental late payment, extra fees, or even an increased risk of identify theft, keep in mind the smart tips below:
1. Outsource your bills
Have you ever experienced that queasy feeling in your stomach when you realize you’re late on your credit card payment — or aren’t sure if you paid or not? “Moving brain” is notorious for letting routine tasks slip, like bill paying. Staying on top of your payments is important for avoiding late fees and building or maintaining a strong credit score2.
The solution to this common oversight is quite simple — take advantage of your credit card’s auto-pay system.
“Set up your credit cards to be paid automatically before your next move,” said David Bakke, a financial columnist at MoneyCrashers.com. “You can go back to paying them manually after your move is complete and things have settled down a bit.”
2. Guard your address
During a move, you’re more vulnerable to identity fraud because sensitive information might be sent to an address where you no longer live. The solution? Don’t just change your address through the post office — do it at the websites of your current banks, credit cards and other accounts as well. So you don’t miss a bill or offer.
3. Cancel auto-pays early
Chances are, you’re signed up for a few services you’ll no longer need once you’ve moved. If you have auto payment arrangements set up with your local gym or cable provider, for example, cancel these effective on the date of your move so that you aren’t charged for something you’re no longer using. It’s very easy to forget about them until after you’ve already moved — and after you’ve paid for a month or two of service you never used.
4. Keep your paperwork from prying eyes
Don’t pack up your sensitive financial documents and put the box on the moving truck. (You’d be surprised how many people do this… and write “financial documents” in bold Sharpie on the container!) Clearly label your records, but keep them with you so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.4 Even better, sign up for electronic statements and bill pay to cut down on the amount of sensitive paperwork in your new household.