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Give Your Credit a Check-up

Give Your Credit a Check-up With a little research and five simple steps, it's easy to spruce up your credit report and credit score.

1. Get the facts

The first step is to get a clear picture of your credit profile. Order your credit reports, credit scores and debt analysis online to get a complete picture of your current status. Look closely at the data from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to see that it all matches up. Keep an eye out for:

  • Wrong mailing addresses
  • Incorrect Social Security numbers
  • Old employers
  • Signs of identity theft
  • Errors in your credit accounts
  • Late payments
  • Unauthorized hard inquiries

2. Right the wrongs

Contact your creditors or send letters of dispute to the credit bureaus to have inaccuracies on your credit report corrected. The credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate your claim and make any appropriate corrections.

3. Improve your behavior

Identify problem areas on your credit report and make a plan for improvement. If you've had a hard time paying your bills on time, sign up for an automated payment service. If your debt levels are above 35% of your available limit, create a payment plan to reduce your balances. Set goals for improving your credit and be sure to celebrate when you reach a milestone.

4. Follow up

Check your credit again 30-60 days after disputing errors and managing your finances to see how much your credit scores have improved. If any inaccuracies remain, continue to negotiate to have them taken off your credit report. If you want to tell your side of the story, ask to have a consumer statement added to your credit file.

5. Monitor your credit

To guard against fraud and keep your credit healthy, sign up for a credit monitoring service that will quickly alert you to any changes in your report. Keep copies of your old credit reports and letters of dispute in a safe place for future reference. Make a plan to evaluate your progress in a few months.

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