It’s a record of your loans, credit cards, payment history and outstanding debts. The information on your credit report is supplied by companies that have given you credit or loaned you money.
There may be mistakes and you have the right to correct them.
When you apply for a credit card or loan, lenders look at your credit report it to decide if you can handle additional debt.
Experian, P.O. Box 9556, Allen, TX 75013-9556 | www.experian.com
Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 | www.equifax.com
TransUnion, Consumer Relations, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022-2000 | www.TransUnion.com
Under federal law you can get a free copy of your three credit reports once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. The reports will not include your credit score. Getting your credit reports this way will not affect your credit score.
You can get your credit score free at www.CreditKarma.com and access it as many times as need to monitor progress.
Assigned by a credit bureau, it’s a number between 300 and 850 that helps lenders determine how credit-worthy you are.
Using Credit. Using credit moderately makes you a better risk than not using credit at all.
Payment History. Do you pay your bills on time? Any missed payments recently?
What You Owe. The amount you owe as well as the ratio of debt to income.
Types of Credit. What credit cards you use and loans you carry.
Length of Credit History. How long you have had credit.
New Accounts. Opening several new accounts over a short time will negatively impact your credit score.
Rebuilding credit takes time and patience and you may need to get serious about a realistic budget and spending plan. Here are nine things you can do.
1. Review your Credit Report. Get a free copy once a year from www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Review it carefully to ensure that the information is correct. Any account included in a bankruptcy should show a zero balance. Bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, but it should not take that long to rebuild your credit score.
2. Always pay your bills on time. Late payments or collections after bankruptcy will seriously hurt your credit score.
3. Get a secured credit card from your bank or credit union by depositing money which becomes collateral for the credit card.
Make sure the bank reports the card to the three major credit bureaus. Be careful because most bankruptcy filers get many credit card offers after discharge.
4. Add a car loan or line of credit down the road that you can pay off easily. Make every payment on time. That may help raise your credit score.
5. Know your credit card limits and keep your balances low. Use them sparingly.
6. Don’t close accounts – keep credit lines open. Closing accounts reduces the amount of credit available to you.
7. Pay aggressively. Make more than the minimum payment on your credit cards each month.
8. Don’t open a lot of new accounts over a short period of time.
9. Pay off credit card debt rather than transferring it to another credit card account.
Patrick Keith is President and Shareholder in Charge of the Richmond office. He has been practicing bankruptcy law since he joined Boleman in 2002. He is a frequent speaker on issues regarding foreclosure and bankruptcy to the Richmond Bar Association, community colleges and civic organizations. He also frequently speaks to law students at the University of Richmond School of Law regarding bankruptcy and the practice of law.
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