How to Scrub Your Own Credit

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Consider these suggestions before cutting up your credit cards.
Consider these suggestions before cutting up your credit cards. (Image: bank statement and cut credit card image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

There are no easy fixes for a credit score. Repairing your credit takes time, commitment and consistency. However, there are some steps you can take that will help boost your score relatively quickly.

Find out your credit score. Websites such as annualcreditreport.com provide three free credit reports per year, with scores costing between $5 and $10. Make the investment so that you can understand your score and how to improve it.

Check your credit report thoroughly for any mistakes. You may wish to obtain a credit report from multiple companies and compare them, noting any discrepancies among them. Thoroughly follow up on any concerns you have about misrepresented information. Items that may show up incorrectly include accounts that don’t belong to you, outstanding debts that you have actually paid off, late payments that were not really late, etc. The presence of any of these on your credit report will negatively affect your score.

Pay off any outstanding fines. These may include fines for library books, movie rentals and other items that start small and accumulate. While it may not be convenient to pay these off, the affect they have on your credit score will make it well worth the money.

Catch up on any overdue payments. Even if your bills have been consistently late, making your accounts current will boost your credit score. Once you have caught up on your payments, make it a priority to pay them on time in the future.

Make partial payments. If you are simply not able to pay off outstanding bills in full, at least begin by making partial payments. Paying only a small amount is significantly better than paying nothing at all.

Do not combine all your debt onto one credit card. While offers like “six months with no interest” will save you some money in the short term, it will cost you more in the long run because of how it will affect your credit score. If all your debt is on one card, it will appear that you are close to maxing out your credit cards. Rather, try to keep each of your cards under 30 percent of the maximum.

Be sure not to close out accounts you have paid off. Closing these accounts will make your credit history appear to be shorter and less trustworthy. As a general rule, credit cards that have a high maximum and little or no debt are always a positive addition to your credit.

Open two or three new credit accounts, and pay them faithfully. Do not allow yourself even one late or missed payment. You should also be careful to pace yourself when opening new credit cards, as starting too many in a short period of time will cause your credit score to drop.

Talk to a credit counselor. If you still find yourself overwhelmed by the thought of correcting your credit, you should speak with a professional who can work one on one with you and your situation. However, be careful to avoid scams. Many people seek to take advantage of individuals who are desperate to improve their credit.

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