Deep Clean Your Credit Report

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your credit report? Identified and disputed errors? Made a plan to resolve any issues that are damaging your credit score? Worked toward improving that score? You haven’t done that?

Sadly, unless a person is specifically interested in getting a credit card, buying a new car, leasing a new apartment, or even buying a home, most people don’t pay that much attention to their credit report. And when they’re ready to make that big purchase? Often their credit score isn’t ready… that’s right, not paying attention to your credit report (and credit score) can not only cost you more in fees and interest, but it can even keep you from getting that new car or that new home. The best way to avoid that kind of disappointment is to pay attention to your score right now… long before you’re ready to get that new line of credit.

Start with getting your complete credit report, which will contain information about your credit and payment history, new credit inquiries, and personal information that is relevant to your identity and credit history. In the past, to get your credit report, you had to request it from one of the three credit bureaus and then wait about ten days for them to mail it to you. These days, you can get your credit report instantaneously and at absolutely no charge simply by enrolling in one of the many online credit reporting services.

Once you have access to your credit report and score, it’s time to do a line by line review to determine what needs to be improved, corrected, disputed and removed. Here are the things you’ll want to study carefully:

  • Personal Information: Review your name, any other names used (maiden name, married name, etc.), addresses (current and previous), date of birth, employment history if listed, etc., to be sure that every detail is accurate. Any deviation and/or information that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft exists.
  • Accounts & Balances: Review every account listed, checking for the length of time the account has been opened to the current balance amount for accuracy. This includes not only current accounts, but old, even closed accounts.
  • Credit Inquiries: Look carefully at all credit inquiries listed. Did you actually request the inquiry? Do you have multiple inquiries? Remember too many credit inquiries can lower your score, and if you did not request them, it is a strong indicator of identity theft.

After you’ve spent time reviewing your credit report, what happens next? One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to dispute any errors that you happen to find on your report. These errors can range from an old bill still listed as due, but that is paid in full, a late payment ding when you can prove the payment was on time, one or more incorrect addresses, and even multiple accounts that do not belong to you.

The initial dispute can be filed online or via U.S. Mail – just make sure that you file the dispute with all three credit bureaus, and not just one. And make sure that you include all pertinent documentation to support your rationale for disputing the incorrect information. While it takes time and patience to dispute items, 79% of disputes result in the information being removed from the credit report, so it is worthwhile to follow the process all the way through.

This determination and patience is especially important when it comes to cleaning up past blemishes on your credit report – even if you’ve corrected the problem, it can and likely will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, depending upon the type of blemish it was.

Finally, once you’ve done everything that you can to correct any errors on your credit report, it’s time to figure out what else you can do to raise your credit score. Here, there are typically two areas that you can address:

  • High credit utilization: The balances that you are carrying on your credit cards at any given time may be hurting your credit score if they are more than 30% of your total credit availability. Paying down those balances will typically boost your credit score within 30-60 days.
  • Available credit: If you don’t have any credit available, you may want to consider getting a secured, catalog, or other type of account to establish that availability, and then use it carefully to begin building (or rebuilding) a good payment history.

Remember, cleaning up your credit report can and will take time, but once you identify and start repairing the issues that caused the blemishes, you will find that every little boost in that credit score is just the incentive that you need to keep going!

Tax Refund Time is a Great Time for A Fresh Start!

Why not use your tax refund to get that fresh start on your credit this year?

Instead of spending your annual tax refund windfall on something that you probably don’t really need, why not use it to get a fresh start on your credit?  (You can do both!)  Maybe you have less than perfect credit, or no credit history at all, but you want to improve your score… perhaps in the near future, you want to buy a car, get a new apartment, or even buy your first house?  With the right credit score, you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest, and it all starts when you start working on your credit report and improving your credit score.

How can your tax refund help you to improve your credit score?

Using your tax refund to improve your credit score is easy!  Simply apply for The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card  and use a portion of your tax refund to make the required security deposit on the credit card (between $200 and $2,000 – you choose the amount), and then, simply use your new credit card to buy whatever it was you were going to buy with your tax refund.  Then, make timely, regular payments on the credit card.  In turn, First Progress will report your good payment history to all three credit bureaus each and every month – if you’re like most people, you’ll start to see results in just a few months!

What could be better?  You still get to buy that new television, take that little vacation, or whatever else it was you wanted, and you can use your tax refund to get that fresh start on your credit that you’ve been hoping for!




How Do I Improve My Credit Status?

Whether we know it or not, we all have our own personal credit status. For some of us it’s good, and enables us to get a mortgage, a loan or a credit card with a good rate of interest. For others it isn’t as good, and those people may experience trouble getting financial products when they need them.

If there is one thing worth remembering about your own credit status, it’s this – however bad it might be, you can improve it given time and effort. By doing this you will make yourself more appealing to lenders of all shapes and sizes in the future.

Here’s how it works. Every time you make a payment on your credit card, for example, that payment is recorded by the main credit agencies. If you meet your payments every month you will generally be regarded as a good credit risk, even if you don’t always clear your balance. Similarly, if you miss a payment – for whatever reason – that also gets noted down, and if missing payments starts to become a habit you will find it increasingly hard to get credit elsewhere.

It is advisable to check your own credit history to see how you are likely to be regarded by others when applying for loans and mortgages. It’s also worth checking to see whether all the facts are correct. Mistakes do happen and they can mean you are unfairly turned down for financial products, so if you spot an error make sure you contact the credit agency who provided you with your report to get it corrected.

If you need to apply for a loan at any point and you are turned down, don’t do what many people end up doing and immediately apply for others with other lenders. Having too many applications in a short period of time can throw up a red flag, as lenders will start to wonder why you are applying for several loans at once.

Educating yourself about your credit status is a good way to start improving it, especially if you are taking a fresh look at your finances and starting to clear some debt. Remember that it isn’t necessarily how much debt you have that prevents you from getting credit, it’s how much of a risk you are. If you have several credit cards but pay back the balances in full – or at least on time – each month, you may still be regarded as a good risk.

In the final analysis, your credit history will follow you around all your life. However good or bad you are with money, your credit record will tend to mimic your habits. If there was ever a good reason to be responsible with money, this reason should be top of the list.

About the Author:  Paul McIndoe is an online, freelance writer from Scotland. When not writing, he enjoys playing golf and is a keen gardener.