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Clean Up That Credit!

Aug 17, 2007
Before you start shopping for a home loan or auto loan, there is one very important step you must take. You must check your credit and make sure that your record is as clean and accurate as possible. You need to give yourself time to get this done before you start shopping for loans. And that means starting probably a couple months in advance.

The very first thing you need to do is get your credit report from each of the credit bureaus. You can get this free once a year right now. Each of the companies will have slightly different information on you, so getting all of them is very important.

Check each report for accuracy. They may range from quite accurate to wildly inaccurate. People have been know to find information from completely unrelated, unknown people.

For each individual inaccurate piece, you want to write a letter to the credit bureau that has that information. Include documentation if you have any.

One of the most common mistakes is to have the same account listed two times, with the information differing just slightly. This makes you look like you have more debt than you actually do, which lowers your overall score.

Another is to fail to show when an account has been paid off. Show that the debt is paid off, and you can bring your score up a little.

For each item, the credit company that listed it has 30 days to dispute what you have said about it. If they do not, the item is corrected.

It can also be good to ask companies that you are paying regularly but not showing on your credit report to share their information with the credit bureaus. Most will do this if asked.

All of these steps are things you can do quite legitimately and without paying someone to do it for you.

The challenge, of course, is remembering to do this enough in advance to do you any good. You have to request the credit reports, receive them, find the paperwork that supports any changes you want made, then wait at least 30 days to see what happens. Obviously there is a huge advantage for those who plan ahead.

There is one final way to improve your credit score. Pay down your current debts so that you don't owe so much. Do not close the credit card accounts you pay off; long established accounts in good standing are beneficial to your credit history, more so if they are still open.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://credit-blog.findcreditonline.com/ about managing your credit well. For more tips on getting a mortgage , go to her site.
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