Protect Your Credit Score
There are so many questions about credit scores, below contain a few facts on how to keep it looking healthy and strong.
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Keep your Credit Score healthy
Here’s what you can do to boost your scores and keep them high:
- Pay your bills on time. Late payments and missed payments can really hurt your score.
- A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. So, any mistakes you make now will linger out there for years.
- Even though the late fee on an account does not kick in for a number of days after the due date, not paying when it is due is recorded as a late payment.
- Set up automatic payments and e-mail reminders so that you don’t miss a payment. You can do this with our free internet bill pay.
- Don’t let financial disputes or unpaid bills turn into collections. Resolve issues quickly.
- If you are having difficulty keeping up with your bills, call your creditors and try to work something out.
- If a review of your credit report shows an action of collection, resolve it quickly. If you can demonstrate it is an error, it may be taken off your credit report.
- Example: An emergency room visit results in an unpaid bill because your address in the doctor’s billing system was not up to date. The bill did not find you and went to a collection agency. You discovered this in a review of one of your free annual credit reports. The doctor’s office is notified, the bill is received and paid, and the collection agency is withdrawn. A letter detailing these actions should be sent to the credit reporting agency to have the action of collection removed from your file. They, in turn, will notify the other agencies.
- Keep your credit card balances low. The number that matters for credit score calculations is the balance on your most recent statement.
- Keep in mind the ratio of what you owe to your available credit. If you owe $1000 and you have $10,000 available on all your combined credit cards, it looks better than if you owe $5,000 on an available balance of $10,000.
- So even if you pay your bill in full every month, you should try not to use more than 30% of your available credit at any given time — and less is even better.
- Don’t cancel older cards thinking it will make you look more credit worthy. This will shift the ratio of what you owe against your available credit.
- A balance of $3000 is 30% of $10,000.
- That same balance of $3000 is 60% of $5000. This will hurt your credit score.
- Use an old card so it doesn’t get canceled for inactivity. Such an account closure can negatively affect your scores. To keep an account active, use it and pay the balance in full.
- Since the length of your credit history is also important, those longstanding accounts are important to hang on to.
- If you suspect that your personal information has been used to commit fraud or theft, place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Do this by contacting one of the national reporting agencies. They will inform the others of it. Review your credit reports carefully.
- Dispute inaccuracies on your credit reports. Look for serious errors, including accounts that aren’t yours, inaccurate entries and negative items.
- Thanks to the FACT Act, we are all allowed one free annual report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Alternating them on a 4-month schedule allows you to keep on top of your history and possible errors.
- If your efforts don’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.
- If you plan to shop for a loan, make all your inquiries within one month’s time. Too many inquiries by potential lenders affects your score. Your report has a record of all creditors who have asked for your credit history within the past year, and a record of individuals or businesses that have asked for your credit history for employment purposes for the past two years.
- One inquiry will generally knock no more than 5 points off your score. The FICO score treats multiple inquiries in a 45-day period as just one inquiry.