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The Credit Doctor Is In: A Credit Score Checkup, Diagnosis and Prescription

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Everyone recognizes the importance of having a good credit score, especially if you’re planning to apply for credit anytime soon. The problem is that far too many people aren’t aware of some simple things that could affect your score, nor do they understand how to fix those problems.

Fortunately, the credit doctor is in. Here are some quick questions for your credit score checkup answered for you.

Checkup Question: I have errors listed on my credit report.

Diagnosis: Sometimes lenders can enter information incorrectly on your file. Alternatively, there are occasions when identity theft can cause any number of unknown entries to appear on your credit file.

Prescription: Get a copy of your credit report and scan it for incorrect entries. If you see anything you don’t recognize, or something that doesn’t belong on there, contact the creditor and ask to have it amended. If your identity has been stolen or compromised, you might need to seek legal defense to negotiate for your rights.

Checkup Question: Can I remove court judgments or default listings?

Diagnosis: Entries that rightfully appear on your credit report are a reflection of your past creditworthiness. If you really did have court judgments or payment defaults listed on your report, they were entered for a reason by your creditors.

Prescription: Work on catching up past-due payments and ensure all your current repayments are on time. After a period of time, the default listings will expire and your credit report will be clearer.

Checkup Question: Should I keep my old credit cards open? I have several credit card accounts.

Diagnosis: Many credit repair tips suggest keeping your old credit card accounts open in an effort to show your balances are lower than your available credit limits. However, having lots of credit accounts with balances owing on them could potentially be a sign of credit problems.

Prescription: One of the factors in calculating your credit score is the amount of revolving credit you have available versus how much you’re actually using. While having low balances on revolving credit can play a part in improving your credit score, it’s also important to remember that the types of credit you have in use can impact your score too.

To boost your score, pay down your outstanding debt balances and work on keeping those balances low. Keep one or two cards open, especially if you’ve had them for a while, as the length of your credit history can affect your score. When you’ve chosen one or two to keep for emergencies, close any unused credit cards or store cards and focus on keeping up with repayments on the ones you decided to keep. Consider whether a consolidation loan might help reduce your monthly repayments and make it easier for you to keep up with your financial obligations.

Checkup Question: I already pay my bills on time but I still have bad credit. Can I still increase my credit score?

Diagnosis: According to FICO research around 35% of your total credit score is based on your payment history. However, the remaining 65% of your score is impacted by other factors. Paying your bills on time will definitely help improve your score, but it’s also important to focus on paying down your outstanding debt balances too.

Prescription: Your credit score is calculated based on a range of factors based on your level of financial responsibility. If you’re keen to boost your credit score, work on ways to develop healthy financial habits. Stay in control of your debt levels and work on reducing your balances.

Conclusion

Focusing on improving your credit score can be a great way to regain control of your financial situation. When you understand some of the things that can negatively impact your credit file, it becomes easier to maintain a healthy credit rating into the future. 

Of course, this article cannot cover every aspect of fixing or rebuilding your credit. If you’d like even more ideas, check out this more comprehensive guide to rebuilding your credit.