As you’re no doubt aware, your credit score is an incredibly important number for a variety of reasons. So if, for whatever reason, your credit score isn’t where you want it to be, how can you improve it? Contrary to what credit repair services would like you to believe, there are no magic bullets here. But there are some simple steps that you can take…
1. Check your credit report. As you may or may not be aware, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) per year. If you find an errors or discrepancies, dispute them following the instructions that come with your report.
2. Start building positive information. If you’ve had recent credit problems, it’s important to put those behind you and get things back on track. If you need to, get a new card and then be sure to stay on top of your payments. If necessary, get a secured card, but… Be sure they’ll report your information to the major credit bureaus. Not all of them do. This step might prove to be particularly useful given the upcoming changes in the way that FICO credit scores are calculated.
3. Try to get negative information removed. If you were late in the past, but are now up to date, give your creditor a call and ask to have the information removed. While the odds of success aren’t that high, there’s no harm in trying. Alternatively, if you have past due accounts, try negotiating with the creditor to get the information removed in return for payment.
4. If there’s inaccurate information on your credit report that you’ve been unable to remove, ask the credit bureau to place the word “disputed” alongside any items with which you disagree — they have to comply. Beyond this, you can place a letter of explanation in your credit file. This file, which should be brief and entirely factual, has to be provided to anyone that requests your credit report. While these steps won’t necessarily increase your numerical score, they might help assuage the concerns of potential creditors.
5. If all else fails, wait. As they say, time heals all wounds. In this case, negative information typically remains on your credit report for seven years.
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