How to Fix Credit Scores – How to Dispute Credit Errors

Your credit score is a central factor in your financial health, and it affects much more than just your ability to obtain loans. It’s used by employers, landlords and even utilities and cell phone companies to gauge your riskiness. If you have a bad credit score, you’ll pay higher rates for loans and other products, but it’s possible to improve your scores with little effort.

Your score is based on information in your credit reports, including how often you pay bills on time, what types of loans and credit cards you have, how much debt you owe and your bankruptcy history. It also includes your personal details like your name and address, and public records such as judgments and liens. Inaccurate negative information can damage your score, and you have the right to dispute it with the credit bureaus.

If there are errors in your report, you can correct them by submitting a dispute online, by phone or by mail. Generally, the credit bureau will verify your claim and remove inaccurate information that can’t be verified. They’ll also keep accurate information in your file, unless it’s outdated. You should always check your credit report annually to make sure it’s accurate and up-to-date.

One of the fastest ways to boost your credit scores is to lower your utilization ratio, which measures how much you’re using of your available credit. You can do this by paying down your credit card balances to less than 30% of their total limits, or by taking out a personal loan to pay off your credit cards, and then making regular payments on the loan.

A recurring late payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven and a half years, and is among the top five factors in both FICO and VantageScore’s scoring systems. If you’re struggling to make your payments on time, work with your creditors to get back on track. You may be able to ask them to stop reporting the late payment to the credit bureaus or, at least, to refrain from putting it on your report.

You can also contact the credit reporting agencies directly to request a free annual credit report and review it for accuracy. If you spot mistakes, you can file a dispute with each of the three credit bureaus. They have 30 days to investigate your claim and will notify you of any changes.

While it can take some time to improve your credit score, the process is well worth it if you’re looking to save money on loans and other products. Plus, a good score can help you qualify for housing and employment opportunities, which is especially important for people with low scores.

You’ll find credit repair firms offering to do everything from analyzing your credit files and sending dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies on your behalf. Be careful with these services, and look for those that are willing to provide upfront information about their fees, specific pricing and services. You can also seek the help of a nonprofit credit counselor to help you build and maintain a healthy credit profile. how to fix credit score

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