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Ten Tips to Increase Your FICO Score

Ten Tips to Increase Your FICO Score

OVERVIEW
Here are 10 tips to help you increase your FICO score by using credit responsibly.

In order to keep your finances in great shape and increase your FICO score, it is important to use your credit responsibly.

Your FICO score is a score created by credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Institutions lend money based on the FICO score created by credit bureaus. Here are some tips for keeping the FICO score in good shape.

1. To Increase Your FICO Score, Pay Your Bills On Time
Late payments have a negative effect on your FICO score. Do your absolute best to make sure every payment arrives on time. If you have missed payments, get caught up. The longer you have a good record of paying your bills on time, the more your FICO score will increase.

2. To Increase Your FICO Score, Keep Balances Low on Revolving Accounts
Credit cards are a type of revolving credit. This means you can pay off the line of credit and then use it again. Keep balances low on this type of credit. Having high amounts of credit card debt will lower your FICO score.

3. To Increase Your FICO Score, Pay Off Credit – Don’t Just Move it Around
Moving credit around is not the same as paying it off. Your FICO score will increase if you consolidate your credit. If you have a balance, but fewer open accounts, your FICO score will increase.

4. To Increase Your FICO Score, Don’t Open Accounts Your Don’t Need
People will often open a number of accounts in order to try to increase the amount of available credit. This strategy can often backfire and lower your FICO score, instead of increasing it.

5. To Increase Your FICO Score, Avoid Collection Accounts
Be aware that any account that has gone to collection will stay on your credit report for seven years. These accounts will negatively affect your FICO score.

6. To Increase Your FICO Score, Open Accounts and Pay Responsibly
If you’ve had trouble in the past with credit, it pays to open a new account and use it responsibly. Establishing a pattern of responsible credit use will help to increase your FICO score over time.

7. To Increase Your FICO Score, Avoid Closing Accounts
Closing an account doesn’t make that account disappear from your credit history. Each account you’ve opened and closed will show up on your credit report and will affect your FICO score.

8. To Increase Your FICO Score, Use Credit Cards
People who have no credit history have a difficult time obtaining credit. It’s important to obtain credit early on and use it responsibly. People who do this have higher FICO scores than someone who never uses credit at all.

9. To Increase Your FICO Score, Seek Credit Counseling
If you are in trouble with debt and your FICO score is lower than you would like, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a legitimate credit counselor. These counselors can help you navigate your credit report as well as help you make a concrete plan to help you increase your score.

10. To Increase Your FICO Score, Remember it Takes Time
Remember, there are no quick fixes for increasing your credit score. It takes time to establish a good credit history, or to repair damaged credit. If you look at it as a process, you’ll be able to create solid goals and to achieve them.

Posted in All About Your Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Score, Debt Consolidation, Tips and Tools for Improving Your CreditComments (0)

What if I Find a Mistake on My Credit Report?

What if I Find a Mistake on My Credit Report?

OVERVIEW
Mistakes found on your credit report can be avoided by and/or corrected by following some straightforward procedures.

A big part of being fiscally responsible these days is checking on your credit report. Individuals can get a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — every 12 months. Checking your credit report is as simple as having these bureaus send you a copy of your credit report and looking it over. Most of the time, these credit reports are correct. But what do you do if you find a mistake?

Credit Report: Check Each Credit Card Account
When you check over your credit report, you need to check each credit card account. The information on the open accounts should match the information you have in your records at home. Check each credit card, including card numbers, balances, and payment histories. If a discrepancy is found, you should contact your credit card company and check your information against theirs. If it is the credit card company’s error, they will correct it and notify the credit bureaus during their next reporting cycle. If it is not their error, you will need to check with the reporting credit bureau to see if the error originated with them. If so, you’ll need to send the credit bureau a copy of your most recent credit card statement, so that the credit bureau can correct their mistake.

Credit Report: Check Your Credit Card Payment History
It’s also important to check payment histories. Payment history can help or harm your credit score (your FICO score) and it is important to be sure that these are correct. If you find a discrepancy, find the documentation necessary to prove yourself and send that to your credit card company. These errors may take a little time to fix, but this is something you can do yourself.

Credit Report: Check All Closed Accounts
Check all closed accounts that are listed by the credit bureau on your credit report. Be sure that the credit report shows no balances on those accounts and that all the accounts are closed. If you believe a credit card account is closed, you will need to get proof of this from the credit card company and send that on to the credit bureau in order for them to correct this mistake.

Credit Report: Contact Credit Card Company if You Find a Credit Report Error
If you find an open account on your credit report that is not yours, contact the credit card company and the credit card bureaus immediately. This can sometimes happen when someone with the same name opens a credit card account and it is accidentally attached to your credit report. Once information such as social security numbers and personal information are verified, these mistakes are usually quickly fixed by the credit card company or credit bureau.

Credit Report: Keep Copies of Correspondence With Credit Bureaus
When dealing with credit bureaus while trying to fix a credit report, it’s a good idea to keep copies of all correspondences you’ve had with the credit bureaus and the credit card companies. These can be useful if the dispute with the credit bureaus or credit card companies is not easily solved.

Credit Report and Fraudulent Activity
If you find evidence of fraudulent activity or identity theft on your credit report, it’s best to contact an attorney or law enforcement official immediately, as well as to let the reporting credit bureaus know. Fraud is not something you can settle yourself and will need to be professionally handled.

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Even With Bad Credit, You Can Get a Credit Card

Even With Bad Credit, You Can Get a Credit Card

200px Smartcard2 Even With Bad Credit, You Can Get a Credit Card
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OVERVIEW
Applying for a secured credit card and paying off your monthly balance can help you to reestablish your credit rating with the major credit bureaus.

Have you been told that you have a poor credit history? Have you run into some trouble with credit card debt before, which now you have cleaned up? Perhaps you have declared bankruptcy and you are trying to reestablish your credit? Here are several key ways that to reestablish your credit by securing credit.

Secured Credit Cards
A secured credit card is one of the most straightforward and safe ways to reestablish your credit. Typically, a credit card will advance you money from the credit card company. Secured credit cards ask you to put up that money in advance. A secured credit card is similar to a debit card; you set up a bank account and deposit an amount of money associated with the card. The account draws from those funds to pay your charges on that credit card. If you put $500 into your bank account, you can only charge up to $500 on your card. You should pay off the balance every month to establish a good relationship. With secured credit cards, you are typically rewarded for good behavior. A bank will increase your credit line without asking you to deposit more money. Slowly, a credit relationship is developed. Some banks only offer secured credit cards to people who are establishing credit for the first time, rather than people who have mishandled their credit in the past.

Be smart when shopping around for a secured credit card. Be on the lookout for a secured credit card that doesn’t charge an application fee. Every secured credit card will charge an annual fee, but they can vary dramatically. Shop around for the secured credit card with the lowest fee. Credit unions often offer secured credit cards to their members at a reasonable cost.

Unsecured Credit Card
Many banks don’t offer secured credit cards, but will offer credit cards with low credits. These cards almost always have high interest rates and fees.

Questions to ask when searching for a secured credit card.

• Does the credit card company/bank report to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion? This is a very important factor in reestablishing your credit. You’ll want to establish a relationship with a credit card company that will make your credit history available upon request.

• How long do I need to have a secured credit card with your company before I qualify for an unsecured credit card? Typically, the time frame is about a year. You’re looking to establish a relationship with a company, so be sure it is one that will meet your needs for the next few years.

• How much interest will my deposit earn? Look for a credit card company that will give you about as much interest as you would get from a savings account at the bank.

• How can this secured credit card boost my credit rating? A secured credit card will boost your credit rating if you use it to charge a few things every month and then pay off the entire amount. Do not carry a balance on the secured credit card.

Keep in mind that if you do have bad credit history, you don’t have to live with it forever and you can take steps to improve it.

 Even With Bad Credit, You Can Get a Credit Card

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What Happens When I Don’t Pay My Bills?

What Happens When I Don’t Pay My Bills?

200px Credit cards What Happens When I Don’t Pay My Bills?
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OVERVIEW
For a variety of reasons, there are times when you can’t make the payments on your bills. What happens when I don’t pay my bills?

During the current economic crisis, it has become more and more common to hear of people who can’t pay their monthly bills. This may happen when one person in the family loses a job or gets a pay cut. It may happen when the interest rate on a variable mortgage payment rises and the payment is now higher, leaving less money for other bills. For a variety of reasons, there are times when you can’t make the payments on your bills. What happens when I don’t pay my bills?

When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Collection Notices. You will receive a notice or two from your creditors reminding you that your payment is late.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Collection Calls. Your creditors will begin to call you, hoping to remind you that a payment is past due. You can speak with them about your inability to pay at this point and hopefully negotiate a payment plan that you can meet.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Increased Interest Rates.If you haven’t paid your bills, or you have but they’ve been late, chances are that you will find yourself with an increased interest rate. This is especially true with revolving charge accounts, such as credit cards.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Negative Credit Rating. Your payment history is reported to credit agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If your credit history reveals a failure to pay, or a history of late payment, this will negatively affect the credit rating that these three companies create for you. With these negatives influencing your credit rating, your credit score will fall and you will become a bad credit risk. It will be more difficult for you to borrow money in the future.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Legal Action. The credit card companies could initiate legal action against you if you continue to be deliquent with your payments or fail to make arrangements with them.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Bankruptcy. You could be forced to declare bankruptcy to satisfy your creditors. While this word has a negative connotation, bankruptcy doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Bankruptcy can help you wipe your financial slate clean and begin again. It will take time to reestablish credit, but you will begin your financial life anew, on solid ground.

When I Don’t Pay My Bills: How to Prioritize
When you find yourself in position of having to make choices about which bills to pay, how do you choose?
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Health and Security. Your family’s health and security should be paramount, so it’s important to take care of meeting your mortgage and paying your health insurance. You’ll also need to take care of transportation, utilities and food.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: What Will You Lose? If you will lose something by not paying a bill, you probably do not want to skip that payment. Look to unsecured bills, such as credit cards, as bills you might be able to skip.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Interest Rate. Which credit cards have a higher interest rate? You can sometimes buy yourself some time and save yourself some money by transferring balances from a high interest card to a lower interest card. You can often contact the credit card company and talk to them about lowering the interest rates or creating a payment plan with smaller payments.
When I Don’t Pay My Bills: Consolidation Loan. Consider a consolidation loan carefully. Be sure to understand the interest rates and fees associated with a consolidated loan.

 What Happens When I Don’t Pay My Bills?

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Credit Bureaus: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

Credit Bureaus: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

OVERVIEW
A credit bureau collects information from different sources about credit and payment information and then provides that information in an organized fashion to lenders. The three primary credit bureaus in the United States are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Credit bureaus create credit reports for lenders that are basically a history of your borrowing and repayment habits. Companies who are trying to determine the creditworthiness of an individual typically request credit reports.

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Who is a Credit Bureau?
A credit bureau collects information from different sources about credit and payment information and then provides that information in an organized fashion to lenders. The three primary credit bureaus in the United States are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

What Information Do Credit Bureaus Collect?
Credit bureaus create credit reports for lenders that are basically a history of your borrowing and repayment habits. On these credit reports, you’ll find your personal information, information about your credit accounts, including your mortgage and your credit cards, any public information about negative events in your history, such as bankruptcies and tax liens, and inquiries that have been made about your credit history, by yourself and others.

Credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion take in credit information from companies called data furnishers. These data furnishers are usually lenders and creditors, utilities, debt collection agencies and the courts. Data furnishers report their data to the credit bureaus voluntarily. They might not report all data to all three bureaus, and some lending or credit companies might not report your data at all.

The information collected by the credit bureaus gets collected and stored in their files and databases. This information is then accessed when a credit report or credit assessment is created for an individual. Companies who are trying to determine the creditworthiness of an individual typically request credit reports.

How Do Credit Bureaus Create Credit Scores?
Credit bureaus collect information from data furnishers and they then create a credit score for their customers based on the information they have collected. The credit bureaus create these scores using a mathematical formula that calculates the likelihood that you’ll repay a loan based on comparing your information to others in a similar situation. This credit score helps lenders evaluate the risk associated with lending you money and helps them to assess interest rate on the money they may be willing to lend.

The three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, do not all use the same scoring system and they do not have exactly the same data from the data furnishers. All three credit reports may contain different information. These bureaus are for-profit businesses and are not affiliated with the government, although they are subject to government rules and regulations. These credit bureaus, also known as consumer reporting agencies (CRA’s), are required to provide to consumers a free copy of each of their credit reports every 12 months.

 Credit Bureaus: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

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How to Read Your Credit Report

How to Read Your Credit Report

OVERVIEW
A credit report contains four basic parts: identifying information, credit history, public records, and inquiries. It’s important to look closely at each section to determine whether or not the information contained in the credit report is correct.

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A credit report contains four basic parts: identifying information, credit history, public records, and inquiries. It’s important to look closely at each section to determine whether or not the information contained in the credit report is correct.

Checking your credit report at least once a year is not only a good idea, but crucial to supporting your financial health. Checking your credit report is similar to getting an annual physical at the doctor’s office. Checking your credit report helps ensure that you don’t find yourself in trouble with your credit bureau before it’s too late.

You can get one copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Each of those credit reports may contain different information so it’s important to obtain a credit report from each credit bureau. Creditors voluntarily give information to the credit bureaus and they don’t necessarily report to all three. Getting a credit report from each of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) will enable you to compare and evaluate the credit reports side by side.

Identifying Information
The identifying information on your credit report is your personal information, including birth date, present and previous addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, and employer information. Individuals reporting to the credit bureaus enter this information, so it’s not unusual to have mild variations on the spelling of your name or your phone number. If there are slight variations on the credit report, it’s best to just leave them. If there are gross errors on the credit report, those need to be corrected.

Credit History
Each credit report will contain information about the credit accounts you have had or currently have. Each individual credit account listed on your credit report is called a trade line. Each credit account will have the name of the creditor and your credit account number. The credit account numbers may be scrambled to keep that information secure. As part of the information about each credit account, you’ll find the name or names on the credit account, the date you opened the credit account, the type of credit (mortgage, car loan, revolving credit, etc), the amount of the loan or the credit limit, the payment amount or how much you still owe, the status of the account (open, closed, inactive, etc), and how well you’ve paid on the account. On Experian’s credit report, you’ll find these items written out in a straightforward manner. On the other credit bureau’s reports, you’ll find payment codes you’ll have to use a key to figure out.

Public Record
This section of your credit report contains any matters of financial public record. It will contain records of bankruptcies, tax liens, or judgments. The things listed in this part of your credit report are very important because they can have a very negative impact on your credit rating.

Inquiries
This part of the credit report lists anyone who has asked to look at your credit history. Inquiries are listed as two types – hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Hard inquiries on your credit report are ones you initiate by filling out a credit application. Soft inquiries are inquiries from companies looking to send out promotional information to a “pre-qualified” group of people.

 How to Read Your Credit Report

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How and Why to Get Your Free Credit Report Every Year

How and Why to Get Your Free Credit Report Every Year

200px Smartcard2 How and Why to Get Your Free Credit Report Every Year
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Overview
Learn how to get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year and why it is important that you review your credit report on an annual basis.

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Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) every 12 months.

As a responsible consumer, it’s important to review your credit report on a yearly basis. When you review your credit report, look for any derogatory information listed. Checking the information on your credit report on a regular basis can help in two ways. First, it can alert you to any fraudulent activity that has been taking place with your name or your accounts. Second, it can alert you to any mistakes that might have been made that need to be corrected. There are ways to work with the credit bureaus to correct any mistakes that might turn up on your credit report.

Agencies specializing in credit reports keep information about the borrowing and repayment habits of millions of Americans. The credit bureaus provide this information in a credit report to lenders who are trying to evaluate customer’s strengths and weaknesses. These credit bureaus, such as Experian and Equifax, provide information about the type of credit you use, and how long you’ve had each account. The credit bureaus will also provide information about your payment history.

When a lender looks at your credit report from a credit bureau such as Experian or Equifax, the lender will look at your credit score. Each credit bureau creates a unique credit score. Those credit scores are determined by looking at the information on your credit report, such as your payment history, the amount of credit you have available, and the amount of debt you currently have. A lender will look at your credit report to determine whether or not you are an acceptable credit risk.

To obtain the credit reports each year, you need to do the following:

1. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the official site to help consumers obtain their credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
2. Or call 1-877-322-8228. You can request your free credit report over the phone.
3. Or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form, which can be found at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/requestformfinal.pdf, and mail the credit report to the address listed on the form.

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus each year. There are no hidden costs. If you are asked to pay for a credit report or join a subscription service, you are dealing with a fraudulent provider. There is no need to provide personal information to legitimately obtain any of these free credit reports.
You can obtain all three credit reports at the same time when you request them using the methods listed above. You can also request one credit report from each credit bureau at a time. A good way to monitor your credit report every few months is to request a credit report from Equifax and then request a credit report from Experian a few months later, followed in another few months by a credit report from TransUnion. This way, you can be assured that your credit information is correct and secure.

 How and Why to Get Your Free Credit Report Every Year

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