Our credit score strongly affects our daily life. One way it does so is in our ability to purchase a home. Luckily, if you are looking to improve your credit score, the Board of Governors of the Federal System offers five tips for doing just that.
1. Get copies of your credit report-then make sure information is correct.
Your can obtain your credit report from the only authorized online source at www.annualcreditreport.com. By law, you can obtain a copy of your credit report from this site, from each of the three national credit reporting companies once every year.
If Internet isn’t an option for you, then you may also call 1-877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
2. Pay your bills on time.
The best way to improve your credit score is to ensure your bills are being paid on time. One option for this is to set up automatic payments from your bank; however, be sure that you always have sufficient funds to cover the payments being withdrawn from your account.
3. Understand how your credit score is determined.
The usual ways in how your credit score is determined is by answering the following 5 questions:
- Do you pay your bills on time? Have you paid your bills late, had any accounts sent to a collection agency or declared bankruptcy? All of these things will show up on your credit report.
- What is your outstanding debt? Most scores are determined based on how close your debt is to your credit limits. If the debt is close to the limit, then this will probably be negatively effecting your score.
- How long is your credit history? Someone with shorter credit history may have a negative effect; however, this could be offset by things like timely payments and low balances.
- Have you applied for new credit recently? If you request your own credit report or if creditors are monitoring your account to make pre screened credit offers, then your credit history will not be effected. However, if you recently applied for many new accounts of credit, this may affect your score negatively.
- How many and what types of credit accounts do you have? Most credit scoring models compare what types of credit you have. A mix of credit cards and installments loans may improve your score; whereas, too many credit cards or finance company accounts may hurt your score.
4. Learn the legal steps to take to improve your credit report.
To learn how to correct errors and tips on dealing with debt and avoiding scams, read The Federal Trade Commission’s “Building a Better Credit Report” at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre03.shtm
5. Beware of credit-repair scams.
Repairing your credit by yourself is sometimes the best way to do it. By reading “Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself,” at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm explains how to improve your credit score. It also lists legitimate resources for low-cost or no-cost help.
*Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System website: http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/fivetipes_creditscore.htm