Understanding and Using Credit
Tips to Improve a Credit Score
- Make sure to check credit reports carefully for accuracy. Take immediate steps to dispute inaccurate information.
Accurate Negative Information
- Only time and responsible use of credit will erase accurate negative information.
- Bankruptcies stay on Credit Reports for up to 10 years.
- Other negative information stay on Credit Reports for up to 7 Years
- Information about an unpaid judgment against the consumer can stay on a Credit Report for up to 7 years, or until the statue of limitations run out, whichever is longer.
- There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions.
- There is NO ‘quick fix’. Agencies promising to erase any of the above mentioned information from a credit report quickly will be ineffective, or engage in illegal activities.
Adding Accounts to Your file
- Credit Reports might not reflect all of a consumer’s credit accounts.
- Local retailers, credit unions and gasoline card companies are not always included on Credit Reports.
- If a consumer is denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file”, and there are accounts that did NOT appear on the credit file, the consumer can ask the Credit Bureau to add these accounts.
- There could be a fee for this service.
Length of Credit History
- If the consumer has only been managing credit for a short time, do not open many new accounts rapidly.
- Too many new accounts will lower the average account age, and can appear risky.
- The most important thing that can be done to improve a Credit Score is to consistently pay bills on time.
- If there are missed payments, get current and stay current
- Paying off a collection account will NOT remove it from the Credit Report. It can be reported up to 7 years.
- If the consumer cannot make at least minimum payments each month on time, the creditors should be contacted to work out a revised payment schedule.
- Shop for rates for a given loan within a focused period of time.
- Re-establish credit history if there have been problems in the past. Open new accounts responsibly and pay them off on time.
- It is important for consumers to request and check their own credit reports AT LEAST once a year. Doing so will NOT lower Credit Scores.
Types of Credit
- Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
- Have credit cards, but manage them responsibly. Consumers with no credit cards tend to be higher risk than those who manage credit cards responsibly.
- Note that closing an account will not make it go away. Closed accounts are still included in the Credit Report, and may be considered when the Credit Score is calculated.
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit.
- Pay off debt rather than moving it around.
- Do not close unused credit cards as a strategy to raise the Credit Score.
- Do not open new credit accounts that are not needed in an effort to increase available credit.