When it comes to dealing with credit problems, the first step is obtaining your credit report and facing whatever that report may hold. Learn more about understanding your credit with this downloadable report from Advantage CCS.
Your Credit - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly One of the most important ways to keep your financial house in order is by maintaining good credit. If you let your credit fall into disrepair, you’ll have a hard time getting loans when you need them. Bad credit can have other serious repercussions too. When you do qualify for loans, for instance, you’ll have to contend with less favorable terms and higher interest rates. To make matters worse, employers are increasingly looking at applicants’ credit scores when making hiring decisions. A low credit score can even result in more expensive insurance premiums. Find out how to keep track of your credit and how to keep it in excellent shape below.The Importance of Checking Your Credit ReportsRegularly There are three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. There’s no way to know which report a prospective lender will pull when considering a loan application, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on all three reports. At the very least, you should get fresh copies of reports from all three agencies one time per year. In the months leading up to applying for a mortgage, auto loan or other form of credit, however, you should pull your reports more frequently or sign up for credit monitoring. By law, each person in the United States is allowed one free copy of his credit report from each reporting agency every year. The easiest way to get your free copies is by going online. The official website for free annual credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com. You’ll have to complete a form to access your reports, and you’ll have to answer a few questions to confirm your identity. If you’d rather have paper copies mailed to you, directions for doing so are available through the official government website as well. Make sure to access your free credit reports through the official website. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there that promise to provide free credit reports, but they often turn around and charge monthly membership fees. If a website asks for your credit card information, proceed with caution. You will almost certainly be charged some kind of fee on a regular basis. Of course, if you would like to check your credit more often, you’ll have to pay for extra copies. Shop around to get the best deal possible. Some of the best deals are offered to people who sign up for regular updates. For example, you may be able to get a three-in-one report three or four times a year for a flat fee.Understanding Your Credit Report It’s critical to completely understand the information that’s included on your credit report. If you don’t, you’re not going to be able to do a whole lot with it. Although the information that’s included in a typical report may be arranged in various ways, it’s generally fairly standard.
Personal Information - Your credit report should have a section that includes personal information. Your full legal name, date of birth and former and current addresses will all be included. Look it all over to confirm that it’s correct. Your current and previous employers should be listed as well. It’s important to confirm the accuracy of this information. If it’s incorrect, it could be a sign that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Lines of Credit - On some reports, this information is broken up into two categories: installment loans and revolving lines of credit. Examples of installment loans include auto loans and mortgages. Examples of revolving lines of credit include regular credit cards and store credit cards. A complete history of next to each entry, and you can click on those links to your transactions with each of your creditors will be initiate disputes. included. At a glance, you’ll be able to see whether any late payments have been reported. Your credit limits Make sure to be completely honest and truthful when will also be shown, and your most recent balances initiating disputes. If the debt is truly yours, you’re not will be as well. going to get anywhere by disputing it. Provide whatever evidence or information that you can to back up your Negative Information - This is where you will find dispute. Be prepared for a wait too. Depending on information about delinquent accounts, which may the nature of your dispute, the ensuing investigation include credit cards that are over the limit or that could take a month or two. Be patient. In many cases, are seriously past due. If you have any collections these disputes result in errors being dropped from your accounts, they will appear here as well. The same is report. After an error is removed, it may take a little true about bankruptcies or court judgments. while longer for your credit score to improve, but it Credit Inquiries - Your credit is also affected by how definitely should. often you appear to be looking for new loans and lines of credit. Every time you apply for a credit card or loan, Improving Bad Credit an inquiry is posted on your credit report. The more recent inquiries you have, the lower your score will If you run across legitimate black marks on your credit, be. These inquiries drop off after about a year or so. you may feel like there’s little or nothing you can do to Look at this section closely. If someone is attempting improve the situation. That’s not true at all. In reality, to steal your identity, you might see inquiries that you there’s a lot you can do. The trick is to be diligent about managing your money and paying your bills on time. didn’t initiate. The sooner you implement positive habits, the soonerDisputing Mistakes on Your Credit Report your credit score will improve. Bad credit doesn’t turn around overnight. From the After carefully looking over every section of your very start, you need to understand that changes won’t credit report, you should be able to tell if there are be apparent immediately. If you have large amounts of any mistakes. Whether the mistake involves your debt, paying them off can feel like an eternity. As long personal information, an inquiry or a line of credit, as you don’t have any more late payments, though, it’s important to dispute the inaccuracy as quickly you should start seeing small improvements to your as possible. The fastest way to resolve inaccuracies credit score. on a credit report is by filing a dispute, and the best way to do that is by going online. If you’ve accessed Sit down and figure out the minimum amount that you your credit report online in the first place, disputing have to pay on your bills each month. Calculate how inaccurate information should be as easy as clicking much you earn. How much money is left over? With on a link. Many credit reporting agencies include links this information, you can create a budget that will allow
plans are also sometimes viable options. Even if you just have late fees dropped, or if the harassing phone calls come to an end, you’ll be in a much better position to improve your credit. Knowledge is Power when it Comes to Credit you to be a better money manager. Paying your bills As tempting as it may be to push aside your worries in a timely manner has to be your top priority. The about your credit, the truth is that nothing is going next one should be chipping away at old debt. Finally, to change without facing the problem directly. The try to avoid accumulating more debt as you move very first step is to get current copies of your credit forward. reports. The next step is to analyze what you find. One thing’s for sure: Ignoring your bad credit is the From there, start cleaning up errors and working to biggest mistake that you can make. It’s upsetting and get rid of legitimate black marks. By implementing stressful to stare a bad credit report in the face, but better money management habits, you should be able it’s a lot better to be aware of what’s happening than to slowly but surely improve your credit situation. To to look away. By not facing your credit problems, they improve your odds of success, sign up with a credit are sure to get worse. In addition to legitimate black counseling agency. Before you know it, your credit marks on your credit, errors could go unresolved and will finally be an asset instead of a burden. make your credit score drop even more. Knowledge is essential when it comes to repairing your credit, and Contact Us: facing the problem head on is the way to go.Consider Non-Profit Credit Counseling Info@AdvantageCCS.org It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when attempting to repair your credit. Even when you have all of the information from your credit reports and have (866) 699-2227 analyzed your entire financial situation, you may feel that your efforts are in vain. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help? Advantage Credit Counseling Service is a non-profit credit counseling agency that can work twitter.com/AdvantageCCS with you to help get your finances back on track. They are made up of professional credit counselors who know how to help you manage your debt, learn to facebook.com/AdvantageCCS budget your money and help you repair your credit as quickly and efficiently as possible. In addition to providing guidance and advice about repairing your credit, Advantage CCS can serve as a liaison between you and your creditors. In some case, your credit counselor may be able to negotiate lower interest rates on your behalf. Debt consolidation