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What can I do to improve my credit score?


Some variation of this question comes up a lot. I guess it’s a sign of the times. One obvious step is to pay on time at least the minimum amount you owe on all of your credit accounts, including your mortgage, car loan and credit cards, as well as on utility and other bills. Credit rating agencies also like to see outstanding balances on all accounts that are well below the available credit. Rating agencies also think highly of credit users who have an air of diffidence and standoffishness. The less you apply for additional credit, the better they like it.
It’s also important to make sure that someone else isn’t sullying your good name by stealing your identity to borrow on your behalf and then skip town, metaphorically speaking. An easy, low-cost way to do that is to monitor your credit reports. You’re entitled to a free one each year from each of the agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Look through the reports for suspicious activity, such as credit accounts that you didn’t open or requests for credit from companies that you haven’t contacted.
You should also confirm that all details in the reports, including name spellings, addresses and your Social Security number, are correct. If you spot anything inaccurate in one of the reports, notify the relevant agency, and do the same if you detect evidence of identity theft. Each agency is then required to notify the others. You should also file a police report and close any account that you suspect was opened fraudulently or tampered with.
-Conrad de Aenlle