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Kim & Lee, LLP
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How to Improve and Maintain Your Credit Score

 

You can compare repairing your credit score with losing weight — it takes time and there are no quick fixes. So you should beware of any advice that claims to improve your credit score fast. The best way to rebuild credit is to manage it responsibly over time. You need to repair your credit history before you see credit score improvement. The following tips will help you do that.

First, understand that when people talk about the "number," they mean the FICO score, which comes from data from three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The higher your FICO score, the easier it is to get credit and mortgages.

Next, look at three important things you can do right now:

  1. Check your credit report. Credit score repair begins with your credit report. Request a free copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Check to make sure that there are no late payments incorrectly listed for any of your accounts and that the amounts owed for each of your open accounts are correct. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureau. You can get your free report at the authoritative AnnualCreditReport.com
  2. Set up payment reminders. Making your credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score. Some banks offer payment reminders through their online banking portals that can send you an email or a text message reminding you when a payment is due. You also could consider enrolling in automatic payments through your credit card and loan providers to have payments automatically debited from your bank account, ensuring on-time payments.
  3. Reduce the amount of debt you owe. This can be easier said than done, but reducing the amount that you owe is going to be a far more satisfying achievement than improving your credit score. The first thing you need to do is stop using your credit cards. Use your credit report to make a list of all your accounts, and then go online or check recent statements to determine how much you owe on each account and what interest rate the creditor is charging you. Come up with a payment plan that puts most of your available budget for debt payments toward the highest-interest cards first while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts.

Payment history tips

  • If you've missed payments, get current and stay current. After being late on a payment, the longer you pay your bills on time, the more your FICO score should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won't haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your FICO score fades as time passes and as good payment patterns show up more recently on your credit report. Good FICO scores weigh any credit problems against the positive information that says you're now managing your credit well.
  • Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It stays for seven years.
  • If you have trouble making ends meet, contact creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor. This won't rebuild your credit score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should increase over time. Seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your FICO score.

Fixing your credit score is about fixing errors in your credit history and maintaining consistent payments. It will take patience and discipline.

 
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Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Tax articles in this e-newsletter are not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding accuracy-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
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