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Credit Check For better or worse, there’s a number associated with your name. Make sure your credit score is all it can be DAWN KLINGENSMITH CTW FEATURES

NOW MORE THAN ever, it pays to have an excellent credit score.The best interest rates on auto loans go to folks with scores of 730 and above.And 60 percent of employers pull credit reports for some or all of their prospective hires, according to the survey by the Society of Human Resource Management.The rationale: people with a pattern of mismanaging their own finances exhibit poor judgment, an indication that they may lack the maturity and sense of responsibility it takes to be a trusted employee. Don’t let a low number hold you back in life. It can take months or even years to boost a low score, but there are steps you can take to gain a few points

and perhaps qualify for a lower interest rate. Get your credit history for free from—the only authorized source for the free credit report that’s yours by law.The report does not include your credit score, which costs a few dollars to obtain. What you’re looking for is negative information that could be lowering your score. Correct any errors or inaccuracies, such as accounts that aren’t yours or old information that should no longer have any bearing on your score. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus must investigate any disputed items and remove them from your credit report if they cannot be verified. Though there is no quick fix for poor credit, paying down credit card balances can boost your score, says Gail Cunningham, vice president of public relations, National Foundation for Credit Counseling. A history of late payments will hurt you, but you can start to mend your credit by paying every bill on time from now on.“Time is your best friend.Treat your debt obligations responsibly and your score will start to reflect that,� Cunningham says. Although closing unused accounts may seem like a good idea,“That’s shooting yourself in the foot,� Cunningham says. The amount of your total debt relative to your total available credit has a significant impact on your score.Ten thousand dollars in credit card debt looks better if your line of credit is $100,000 vs. $15,000, she says, because

you’re not as close to maxing out your accounts. The length of your credit history also affects your score, so don’t close your oldest accounts. Use those cards occasionally to keep the accounts active and avoid cancellation. Borrowers should pay off any overdue bills or old debts they forgot about, and pay down high credit card balances to improve their credit utilization ratio (how much of their available credit line they owe.) Credit card balances in excess of 50 percent of their limits will raise eyebrows, while 30 percent or lower is seen as responsible, says Cunningham.

will check your credit to determine the interest rate for which you are qualified. Multiple credit checks from dealerships will be reported as a single inquiry provided the inquiries all occur within a 14-day period. “It’s critical that you have your ducks in a row so you can do your shopping within that time frame,� Cunningham says. If you end up shopping over a longer period, bring a printout of your credit report and see what dealerships have to say before they check your credit, since each inquiry can decrease your score by five points, says financial planner Joel J. Ohman, founder of, a credit card

MIND YOUR FINANCES TAKE THIS AWARD-WINNING ONLINE E-LEARNING SERIES AT YOUR OWN PACE, AND PUT YOURSELF ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL WISDOM: UNDERSTANDING CREDIT REPORTS, CREDIT TERMS AND DEFINITIONS, APPROPRIATE LEVELS OF DEBT, CREATING SPENDING PLANS, GOAL SETTING AND OTHER CORE FINANCIAL SKILLS. INCLUDES A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION. HTTP://ELEARNING.MINDYOURFINANCES.COM/ Credit bureaus generally don’t like to see too many inquiries about your credit history because it suggests you are desperate for money. However, the bureaus realize that if you’re shopping around for a major purchase, such as car, you may go to several dealerships in search of the best deal. Each of those places

comparison site that promotes responsible credit management. Only time and discipline can mend a damaged credit record.“Don’t fall for credit doctoring or credit repair services. Start treating your debt obligations responsibly, and over time, your credit report will improve,� Cunningham says.






Estate Planning 2011  
Estate Planning 2011  

Estate Planning 2011