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First Steps to Clean Up Credit

Credit report monitoring – checking credit reports for accuracy – is a critical first step when you want to clean up credit. Remember, lenders use credit reports as the basis for granting or denying you credit, as well as determining the interest rate you’ll pay. In fact, while it’s a good idea to undertake credit report monitoring on a regular basis, you may want to review your credit reports and clean up credit prior to trying to get a loan, a job, or a mortgage. That will give you time to clear up any errors.

In checking your credit report, keep an eye out for the following:

Inaccurate personal information: Check to make sure that your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, phone number, and employment information is correct.

Old negative information: Remember that negative information can only stay on your credit report for seven years. The exceptions are criminal convictions (which can remain forever), bankruptcies (which can remain for 10 years), tax liens (which can remain for seven years after you’ve paid), and reports generated in conjunction with a job application for a position paying over $75,000 or a credit or life insurance application for more than $150,000 (no limits on either).

Other dated information: With the exceptions listed above, clean up credit by making sure no credit inquiries are more than two years old.

Closed lines of credit: When you’re credit report monitoring, you may see lines of credit that you no longer use or that are closed. For example, you may have a store charge card that you haven’t used for years. In addition, to clean up credit, for any accounts listed as closed, make sure it says, “closed by consumer.”

Incorrect negative information: If you’ve been contacted by a debt collector, or have had past experiences with debt collectors, the debt collection agency may have submitted negative information to the credit reporting agency. If you’ve disputed a debt, that information should be contained in your credit report. If you’ve paid off a debt, that information should be included as well.

Identity theft: When doing your credit report monitoring to clean up credit, look for accounts or lines of credit that you did not open, and check existing account balances to ensure that they’re in alignment with your records.

Make a list of any inaccuracies you find, and report them to the consumer reporting agency that issued your report, or contact us at 203-529-5100 for credit report monitoring and to clean up credit.