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Consumer Tips

If you find that you are credit-challenged-that is, you have bad credit-what do you do? Well, first and foremost, credit cannot be repaired quickly. Unless there have been errors in reporting (which can typically be corrected within 60-90 days by alerting your bank and the credit reporting agencies), you will have to give yourself the necessary time (months or years in some cases) to fix any issues in your credit history.

As a starting place, you will need to get a copy of your report to verify that all the information in it is accurate. The good news for consumers is that recent legislation entitles you to get one free credit report annually from each reporting agency. The free report does not include your credit score, but it will include any information reported about you by your creditors. It is best (most informative) to request separate detailed reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. However, a summary report is also available which will contai...

 

 
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How can I improve my credit rating?

  • First and foremost, credit cannot be repaired quickly.
  • Unless there have been errors in reporting (which can typically be corrected within 60-90 days by alerting your bank and the credit reporting agencies), you will have to give yourself the necessary time (months or years in some cases) to fix any issues in your credit history.
  • As a starting place, you will need to get a copy of your report to verify that all the information in it is accurate.
  • Legislation entitles you to get one free credit report annually from each reporting agency.
  • If you find incorrect information in your credit reports, notify the credit bureaus in writing with copies of any documentation you have that supports your claim.
  • You should also contact the creditor associated with the mistaken information and ask them to notify the credit reporting company of the error.
  • If the creditor asserts that the information it reported is correct, you can request that the matter be investigated again.
  • Give yourself time - 6 months to a year or more - to improve your rating before you apply for credit.
  • Address any delinquent (late, unpaid) accounts first. Get them current or make payment arrangements with your creditors so that you can get on the road to being current.

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What should I know about credit cards?

  • Credit cards are the easiest form of credit to get.
  • A credit card is a plastic card, issued by a financial institution, that allows you to make purchases or to get cash from ATMs.
  • Credit cards are called revolving lines of credit because the balance fluctuates (up or down) according to how much you borrow, how much you pay, and how much interest is assessed each month, and because there is not a set number of payments to satisfy the debt.
  • Lenders assess your creditworthiness largely on your past credit history.
  • Credit card companies make their money by charging interest on the amount of money that you borrow at any given time, and by charging annual fees for the use of their credit card.
  • Shop for a credit card by reviewing the key credit terms in each offer.
  • Besides allowing cardholders to stretch payments for goods and service out over time, credit cards offer other advantages to consumers, including purchase and fraud protections and travel insurance.
  • There are some important do's and don'ts that will help you maintain a good credit experience.
  • Know your rights and obligations if you discover an error on your credit or debit card statement.
  • It is key to learn how to limit your liability for unauthorized credit or debitcard charges.

For more information 


 
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