Improve Credit Report: 3 Steps to Take Now

January 19, 2013

Improve Credit Report: 3 Steps to Take Now

It seems lately I have had people tell me about problems that they are having with their credit report. So I have provided 3 steps you can take now (as well as debt consolidation information) in order to improve your credit report.

First, how can I correct errors on my credit report?

1. Get the errors removed…it’s your right. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to have any incorrect or misleading information removed from your credit report. If an error appears on your credit report, you should contact the credit bureau and request a reinvestigation of the disputed information.

2. Correct it yourself. If the error is not removed, you have the right to add a 100-word consumer statement to your credit bureau file to explain your side of the story. The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. You can contact these agencies by phone, by mail, or through their websites.

3. Regular Upkeep. Keep in mind that since mistakes do occur in credit reporting, you should check your credit report once a year as part of your financial planning process. Also, the more common your name is (e.g., John Smith), the more likely you are to have someone else’s information added to your report.

The second question, Will debt consolidation hurt or help my credit rating?

Debt consolidation can lead to an improvement in your credit rating by making your debt easier to manage. Sometimes, debt consolidation means taking a loan at a lower interest rate to pay off several smaller loans at higher interest rates. Making one payment instead of many may help you keep your debt under better control, make it easier for you to make timely payments, and thus improve your credit rating.

Although managing your debt will improve your credit record in the long run, consolidation can have a more immediate impact. For example, if you have 10 accounts in default on your credit report, your lenders will consider you a bad credit risk. But if you can pay off those accounts with a consolidation loan, you have eliminated the problem. Your new credit report will now show that you cured the defaults and retired the debts. And you have only one open account–your consolidation loan. As long as you stay current on the consolidation loan payments, your credit rating will be viewed more favorably than before.

Remember, your goal is to manage your debt by making your payments more affordable. You can do this by lowering your interest rate or increasing the number of months you have to pay off the debt. There is no point in consolidating if you don’t achieve one or both of these goals–you’ll want to be sure you can afford the consolidation loan and make the payments. Otherwise, you’ll end up back where you started.

Although debt consolidation has its advantages, you must recognize that by extending the time to pay off your debt, you will ultimately be paying more in interest charges. Also, once you get a consolidation loan, you should consider closing some of your credit card accounts so that you can’t simply run up your bills again.

So make sure you have your financial affairs in order and a good way to start this process would be to contact me by e-mail at lifetime@donet.com or call me toll free at (888) 914-9909. I would be more than happy to review your financial situation with you to make sure your financial house is in order, and thank you for joining me this week for your retirement minute.

Until next week!

Have a retirement planning question for John Bearss? Send it to him here.

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Disclaimer: Investing involves risk. Always do your own due diligence and consult a trusted financial professional before making any investing or financial decisions. John Bearss is a retirement specialist.  He is also a registered representative of and offers securities through SICOR Securities, Inc., Member FINRA, MSRB, SIPC, 6500 Poe Avenue, Suite 105, Dayton, OH 45414 | (937) 890.3101. Neither SICOR Securities, Inc., Lifetime Decisions Management nor their representatives provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your CPA or qualified tax advisor before making any decisions. Lifetime Decisions Management, Inc. and SICOR Securities, Inc. are not affiliated.

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