Updated: 10/13/2011 2:59 PM ET|
9 fast fixes for your credit scores
5. Check your limits
Your scores might be artificially depressed if your lender is showing a lower limit than you actually have. Most credit card issuers will quickly update this information if you ask.
If your issuer makes it a policy not to report consumers' limits, however -- as is sometimes the case with "no preset spending limit" cards -- the bureaus may use your highest balance as a proxy for your credit limit.
You may see the problem here: If you consistently charge the same amount each month -- say, $2,000 to $2,500 -- it may look to the credit-scoring formula like you're regularly maxing out that card.
If you have an American Express charge card -- the kind that must be paid in full every month, rather than the kind on which you carry a balance -- you probably don't have to worry, because charge cards typically aren't included in the credit utilization portion of the FICO formula.
If, however, the card is categorized on your credit reports not as a charge card but as a revolving credit card, and either a credit limit or high balance is reported to the bureaus, your balances on the card could be a problem.
You could go on a wild spending spree to raise the high balance reported to the credit bureaus, but a more sober solution would simply be to pay your balance down or off before your statement period closes.
6. Dust off an old card
The older your credit history, the better. But if you stop using your oldest cards, the issuers may decide to close the accounts or stop updating them to the credit bureaus. The accounts may still appear, but they won't be given as much weight in the credit-scoring formula as your active accounts, said Craig Watts, an executive at Fair Isaac, the company that created the FICO score.
So you might want to charge a recurring bill to one of those little-used accounts or take them out for dinner and a movie occasionally -- always, of course, paying off the balance in full.
7. Get some goodwill
If you've been a good customer, a lender might agree to simply erase that one late payment from your credit history. You usually have to make the request in writing, and your chances for a "goodwill adjustment" improve the better your record with the company (and the better your credit in general). But it can't hurt to ask.
A longer-term solution for more-troubled accounts is to ask that they be "re-aged." If the account is still open, the lender might erase previous delinquencies if you make a series of 12 or so on-time payments.
8. Dispute old negatives
Say that fight with your phone company over an unfair bill a few years ago resulted in a collections account. You can continue protesting that the charge was unjust, or you can try disputing the account with the credit bureaus as "not mine." The older and smaller a collection account, the more likely the collection agency won't bother to verify it when the credit bureau investigates your dispute.
Some consumers also have had luck disputing old items with a lender that has merged with another company, which can leave lender records a real mess.
9. Blitz significant errors
Your credit scores are calculated based on the information in your credit reports, so certain errors there can really cost you. But not everything that's reported in your files matters to your scores.
Here's the stuff that's usually worth the effort of correcting with the bureaus:
- Late payments, charge-offs, collections or other negative items that aren't yours.
- Credit limits reported as lower than they actually are.
- Accounts listed as "settled," "paid derogatory," "paid charge-off" or anything other than "current" or "paid as agreed" if you paid on time and in full.
- Accounts that are still listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy.
- Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically fallen off your reports.
You actually have to be a bit careful with this last one, because sometimes scores actually go down when bad items fall off your reports. It's a quirk in the FICO credit-scoring software, and the potential effect of eliminating old negative items is difficult to predict.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
ok; its like this, if a company sells your debt to another collector , the debt should not be outdated to a a new date but kept to the same date it was opened. If something like this happened to you, report it to the credit agency [like sperian ,equifax,transunion.} and I ASSURE YOU that it would be fixed by the lender or agency that owns your account.
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