NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — More than 50% of consumers who are purchasing big ticket items such as cars or a home fail to check their credit at any point in the buying process, which can lead to surprises when it comes time to close the deal.

Failing to check your credit before you embark on an expensive purchase means consumers may be unaware of the interest rate they will be paying or delinquent or fraudulent charges that appear on their credit score that can be corrected.

Consumers may think that because they pay their bills on time they do not need to check their credit scores or reports, said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian Consumer Services, the Costa Mesa, Calif. information services company.

"Knowing one's credit status in advance can help to negotiate favorable interest rates and make sure everything is in good standing before making the big purchase," he said.

Only 60% of home buyers and 25% of car buyers check their credit as part of the purchase process with 11% of consumers who found something negative on their credit report that they did not know about, according to a recent Experian survey. The survey also revealed that 13% of respondents were surprised by their credit scores with 36% who said their credit scores were higher than expected while 11% reported their credit scores were lower than expected.

Checking your credit score on a regular basis often alerts consumers to identity fraud.

"Identity fraud is real and affects consumers at very important times of life," said Chaplin. "In today's environment, it's especially important that consumers check their credit regularly to spot signs of fraud, understand better what affects their credit and make decisions that will help them be in the best position possible when it comes time to buy their dream home or car."

Battling the effects of identity fraud is not immediate and can hinder someone from getting the lowest interest rate available to them when they need to make a purchase, he said. The survey also revealed that while 89% of consumers agree that credit plays an important role when buying a home or a car, only 73% recognize that identity fraud could affect their ability to get loans with favorable interest rates.

"In the short term, it could mean that consumers don't get the best rate or even a loan in the timeframe desired because they have to deal with the fallout of the fraud," Chaplin said. "In the long term, it could mean dealing with those same effects of fraud over and over again."

The good news is that many consumers are confident about their current credit score. The survey found that 82% of consumers report they feel confident about their credit status with only 14% who are worried their credit status might hurt their ability to make a home or vehicle purchase.