4 Savvy Ways to Protect Your Credit When You Move
On average, one out of every 10 Americans across the country move every year (11.2% between 2015 and 2016, according to the latest U.S. Census data). 1
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Given the flurry of activity that comes with relocating — finding a new home, packing your belongings and hiring movers — protecting your credit can fall by the wayside. To avoid an accidental late payment, extra fees, or even an increased risk of identity theft, keep in mind the smart tips below:
1. Outsource your bills
Have you ever experienced that uneasy feeling 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 score.
This common oversight can be solved by taking 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 — change it on the websites of your current banks, credit cards and other financial accounts as well.
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.
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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. 2 Even better, sign up for electronic statements and online bill pay to cut down on the amount of sensitive paperwork in your new household.