Credit problems disproportionately affect African Americans for a variety of reasons — historically lower incomes, higher unemployment, being hit especially hard hit by the subprime mortgage lending crisis — but according to a new report, you can add another reason to the mix.
“African Americans disproportionately have more errors on their credit reports, which usually hurts them,” said Dedrick Muhammad, who is senior director of the NAACP’s Economic Department, on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin. He came on the show to discuss the study “The Challenge of Credit Card Debt for the African American Middle Class,” which was released in December by the NAACP and Demos.
The result, Muhammad continued, is that, “We are often paying a little more in terms of interest, we have worse credit scores, and more of that is due to errors in the reports. So we have to have particularly vigilance about our credit reports.”
Muhammad is co-author of the report, along with Catherine Ruetschlin, lead researcher at Demos. In it, Muhammad said, “We focus not on all African-Americans, but those who are making middle income and how their credit is affecting their ability to participate in a recovery. [In the report] we see a whole host of issues about how structures in our economy are still keeping African-Americans from getting their fair share.”
One thing all of us can do to protect our credit is to stay on top of the reports that go into determining our scores. Personal finance expert Marcia Griffin said the first step is to order a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, which is federally authorized. That way, you can follow up with the credit bureaus if you see any errors on your report.
Listen to what else they had to say, in the clip below.