Credit Reports Are More Valuable Than You Might Think
Your credit report can be one of your most valuable assets as a consumer. Your credit report can affect the interest rates you’ll pay on loans, credit card eligibility, and even play a role in landing your next job. To make sure your report is in great shape:
Check your credit reports regularly
You can check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. Pull one credit report from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus every four months instead of looking at all three at once. By spacing it out, you can make sure your information is correct on a regular basis. If you see any suspicious activity, report it immediately.
Make sure your report is accurate
If you find inaccurate information, contact the credit bureau you received the credit report from in writing, with documentation that backs the discrepancy. The credit bureau then has 30 days to investigate your claim and must provide details. Ask the bureau to send a corrected copy of the credit report to any lender that recently received the inaccurate one. If you were turned down for a loan because of an error on your report, the lender may reconsider your loan application. Get your credit reports from the other two credit bureaus to make sure mistakes don't show up there, as well. Clearing up a mistake at one agency doesn't mean the corrected information gets passed on to the other two.
Contact lenders if you will be late paying bills
Always try to pay bills on time, all of the time. If you know you’re going to be late making a payment, contact the lender directly and explain the circumstance as to why your payment is going to be late.
Don't close existing credit
Even if you're not regularly using a credit card, do not close it right before you apply for new credit. Closing cards can shorten your credit history and affect your credit utilization rate. Older cards play an important role in your credit history; they provide lenders with a longer view.
To fix your credit problems, start by talking with the folks at your credit union. Someone on staff may be able to work with you to devise a credit repair plan. Or your credit union may refer you to a free or low-cost outside counseling resource.