Keep A Clean Credit History
Do you think it is fine to “double-up” a payment on your bills or loan? You have missed paying your bill by the due day, so you figure instead of paying the bill and getting hit with a late fee, you will pay double next month and you will be caught up--no problem. It is a problem because bills and loans 30 days past due are usually reported to credit bureaus; plus you will be hit with a bigger late fee. With today's technology, that magazine subscription bill you ignored five years ago or those late payments you made can all come back to haunt you because it is all there on your credit report.
With the financial world in turmoil, this is the time to find out exactly what your credit rating is. The better your credit, the better your chances are of navigating through hard times. If you think you have a bad credit report, get a copy to see just how bad it is or in some cases is not. When checking your reports, you should get a copy from all three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union from one service. It is a good idea to take a look at your credit report even when you pay every bill on time, because there may be mistakes on the report.
Getting Your Credit Report
1. Visit Annual Credit Report (See related links) which is a central site that allows you to request a free credit report once a year. This site is sponsored by, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union (USA only). This is what the Federal Trade Commission says, The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to consumer reporting companies. See related links.
2. Learn how to read the report by visiting the FTC site above and by reading the fine print when you receive your report. Reports will list every credit account you've ever had, any account that's gone to a collection agency, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, and each payment you have made on each account. The payments will contain notations on the timeliness of your payment.
3. If you find what you expected, you can begin to clean up your credit report by starting to pay all of your bills on time. If you are falling behind, you should pay the minimum amount due. This will keep your report on the plus site.
Learn To Stretch Your Paycheck
1. Be penny-wise. Save your loose change, you will be surprised at how quickly it can add up. If you think it is impossible to save money for something special, save change instead. Get a roll of dimes or quarters each time you are paid. Put the wrapped coins in a box and do not touch it, you will be surprised how quickly the dollars add up.
2. Switch to a free ATM card. If you're being charged to use your ATM card, those costs can add up. Find a different bank if yours charges a user fee. Avoid teller machines that will charge a fee regardless of your bank affiliation.
3. Ask for better phone and credit card rates. Competition is fierce among phone and credit card companies. Many are willing to accommodate your request for lower rates to ensure your continued loyalty. To ensure you'll get a lower rate, come ready with a lower offer from a competing company. Remember you have to pay your bills on time to make a good case. There is a chance that you will be told no, but you may also be told yes.
4. Call your telephone company to see if you are getting the best service for your personal telephone usage. If you have one of the high-end cell phones that do everything except dance, you may do well with basic land service.
5. Keep your car in top condition. If you follow a manufacturer's recommendations on maintenance, you'll save money in the long run.
If you realize that you are in over your head and cannot pay your bill or loan, take a proactive approach, call the company and explain your situation. Try to make arrangements to set up a manageable payment schedule. Many companies will be happy to help you set up a payment plan that better meets your financial limitations.
These recommendations are meant to give you some guidance to keeping your credit reports clean and up-to-date. You should know that no one can really clean up your credit report except you. If there is erroneous information you can write a letter to the credit bureau. If the information that is shown on your credit report is correct no one can have it removed. Visit your credit card sites online for information; read the small print on the back of your bills to be sure that you know exactly how their billing cycles work.
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FTC consumer credit reports
Annual Credit Report
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