Friday, August 21, 2009

3 steps to clean credit

Keeping your credit spiffy nowadays is just as essential as all the other Musts: the bi-annual doctor visits, daily vitamins, flossing.

That said, the Dos and Don'ts of credit can be puzzling. Do late payments matter? Should you get credit monitoring? How do you ge
t a copy of your credit score?
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If you are ready for some in-depth answers, I encourage you to read this Money Adviser article. Otherwise, if you're just getting started, here are three simple things to do now:

1) Get a copy of your FREE credit report from DON'T use the ones advertised on TV, like (those will suck you into pricey credit services). You're entitled to one free copy per year by law, and is the official website. You can download a copy from each of the three credit bureaus or have your reports mailed to you.

See our tips: My favorite EZ money saver!

2) Either way, review them for errors and submit corrections ASAP (the website has an online form you can submit; I've used it and it is effective). Even a simple clean-up can help to boost your score, because studies have shown that most reports contain errors. Request a follow-up copy in a few months to make sure the errors were fixed.

3) Get a copy of your credit score from to see where you stand. FICO is the most widely used credit score. If you want to know what banks and other lenders are seeing, get your FICO. You have to pay for it, but it's worth knowing whether you need to do more to improve your credit, or whether you're doing fine. HINT: Don't be anxious. In the last class I taught, several women were certain they had terrible scores--and they didn't!

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