Home > Credit Score > 4 Ways Roommates Can Wreck Your Credit

Comments 0 Comments

Sharing a house or an apartment with a roommate or two can be a great way to save money. Just make sure to protect your credit, because an unscrupulous roommate can wreck your credit rating in a hurry.

Here are four of the ways your roommates can wreck your credit, along with some tactics to help you reduce your risk.

1. Swiping Your Social Security Number

If a roomie gets a hold of your Social Security number, they can pretend to be you, just like that. They already have the same address as you, and with your Social Security number they’ll be able to apply for credit, bank accounts, even car loans using your name and your credit history.

So guard your Social Security card and other private financial information. Keep these items in a locked desk drawer or in a safety deposit box.

Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or leave your wallet out in common areas of a shared house or apartment.

2. Intercepting Your Mail

Does your roommate or roommates have first dibs on the mail? Make sure they are trustworthy. Let’s say you’ve just moved to a new area and opened a new bank account or credit card account. If a roommate intercepts your personal financial information, such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc., they can do what they want with the account and you’ll be stuck with the bills and a credit mess to clean up.

Always keep track of important mail that you’re expecting, and follow up with senders if you don’t receive something you should have. Check your bank and credit card statements frequently, and track your spending so you can easily recognize any purchases you didn’t make.

3. Not Paying Their Share of the Bills

If the lease and utility and other accounts are in your name, it will hurt your credit record if a bill goes unpaid or the rent is paid late.

A roommate who fails to pay his or her share of monthly bills on time can be a real headache for your financial life and for your credit rating. And if a roommate moves out without giving you any notice, you may be stuck with the full cost of the rent and other expenses all on your own.  If your roommate pays late or misses payments, it’s probably a good idea to start looking for a new roommate.

So choose your roommates carefully, ask for references and check them. And make sure they have the means to pay their share of the rent each month.

4. Going Online as You

If a roommate swipes the password information for your online accounts, they could go online as you and charge up your bank and credit cards any way they wish.

This is why it’s important to protect your password information and change your passwords frequently. Keep your laptop in a locked room when it is not with you.

It’s important to take good common-sense measures to protect yourself, including checking your credit regularly for signs of fraud. You can check your credit reports for free once a year from each credit reporting agency through AnnualCreditReport.com – look for accounts that aren’t yours. And checking your credit scores regularly – which you can do for free using a site like Credit.com – can tip you off to problems with your credit if you see an unexpected drops in your scores.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: Fuse

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team