Recently, I had a personal experience that confirms the need to check your credit report. A relative of mine got sick several months ago and I had to take him to the emergency room. Because my relative was under so much sedation upon discharge, I signed the discharge paperwork and took him home. A few months later, there was a radiology bill from the emergency room visit that this relative had not paid, and was placed in collection by the hospital. One day I received an alert from my credit reporting company that this radiology bill had been placed on my credit report as a collection account. I could not imagine why the hospital would have put this bill on my credit report because my relative was not a minor and should be responsible for paying his own medical bills. This collection debt lowered my credit score by 77 points. I had to file a dispute with all three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. I also had a statement added to my credit report that explained this bill was not mine and was being disputed. I then contacted the radiology company that put this bill on my credit report and explained the situation to them. They investigated and realized that this should not have gone on my credit report. They apologized and prepared the necessary documentation to have this bill removed from my credit report with all three credit bureaus. I was very thankful that it went as smoothly as it did because I have heard stories of the nightmares some people have when trying to get something removed from their credit report.
The lesson I learned from this experience was that I was glad I had a membership with a credit reporting company that alerts me to any activity on my credit report. If I did not have that membership, the radiology company would have put that bill on my credit report and I would not have known for months or years later when I tried to apply for credit. Being alerted by the credit reporting company allowed me the opportunity to fix the problem promptly. That is why it is so important to check your credit report regularly and if possible, pay for a membership to a credit reporting company so you can keep track of all of the activity on your credit report. The money you will spend on that membership is worth every penny to save you the stress and frustration of having to fix an error months later.
Another lesson I learned is that you have to be careful when you take people to the hospital because you could inadvertently sign paperwork at the hospital which makes you liable for the payment of any unpaid medical bills. When signing hospital paperwork for others, read very carefully what you are signing because you could be signing up to pay their unpaid medical bills.