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Tips for Maintaining Good Credit

Your Credit Report

Your credit report is available free of charge at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) every 12 months.

You may order your reports from all three agencies at the same time, or order one from each company at different times throughout the year.

If you order your credit report directly from the agencies, rather than through annualcreditreport.com, there will be a charge each time.

Your FICO Score

These factors determine your FICO score:

Payment History : 35%

Amount Owed : 30%

Length of History : 15%

New Credit : 10%

Types of Credit : 10%

Reviewing Your Credit Reports

When reviewing your credit reports, be sure the following information is current and correct:

Basic Information

  • Name (including middle initial, JR/SR, maiden)
  • Social Security Number
  • Current and Previous Addresses
  • Phone Number(s)
  • Date of Birth
  • Marital Status
  • Employment Information

Credit History

  • Verify all accounts listed are accurate and belong to you
  • Double check account balances
  • Make sure accounts you closed voluntarily are correctly labeled as “closed by consumer”
  • Confirm accuracy of negative entries
  • Ensure negative entries aren’t duplicated
  • Verify zero balances for settled accounts and bankruptcy discharges
  • Be sure no negative information older than seven years old is listed (except as permitted by law)

Disputing Credit Report Errors

If you find inaccuracies or need to dispute an entry, each credit reporting agency has a link on their website to initiate disputes.

You may also lodge disputes by mail, if you prefer. Here is an example of a dispute letter.

(http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report)

Creditors have up to 45 days to respond to disputes. The credit reporting agency will notify you of the outcome. If the dispute is successful, check your credit report(s) again at 30 & 60 days to ensure the changes are reflected accurately.

Going Forward

As you work toward your ultimate goal of qualifying for a mortgage and realizing your dream of home ownership, keep in mind the following tips for maintaining your credit:

  • Pay every bill on time – by far the most important factor
  • Keep each creditor account balance under 25% of the credit limit
  • Keep unused accounts open – unless there are fees attached
  • Address judgments or liens
  • Address all credit report errors

It will take some time and patience to complete all the necessary tasks. But remember that you’re working toward your ultimate goal of qualifying for a mortgage and owning a home.

We’re with you every step of the way. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your Home Ready counselor at 866-260-6751.

You can do it!