Credit Report Review
A key component to gaining control of your finances is knowing exactly where you stand financially. You can request a free credit report once a week from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Credit is used in decisions regarding eligibility for loans, the cost of insurance premiums, and even employment and rental applications. A credit score is a calculation based on factors from your credit report at the time the score is requested. Generally, better credit terms are offered to consumers having higher credit scores. Every score can be improved — so take the steps needed to your score higher!
Credit Score Factors
FICO scores are based on a combination of five main kinds of credit information; some have more impact.
Highest & Lowest FICO Scores
The FICO score was created by Fair Isaac Corporation and it is the most common credit scoring system used. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your score the better; ideally keep working on improving your score until you reach 700 or higher. A lower score often results in paying more for the cost of credit and services; so it is worthwhile to know what your credit score is, the factors that influence it, and using strategies to improve your score.
(35%) Payment History: whether or not you make payments on time and in the correct amount.
(30%) Debt Balances: combined total debt owed, outstanding balance compared to credit limit.
(15%) Length of Time: when an account was opened and when it was last used.
(10%) New Credit: number of inquiries, time since credit inquiry, new credit opened.
(10%) Credit Type: mix of credit used, such as installment debt, revolving debt, consumer finance accounts.
Key Strategies to Maintain and Improve Credit Scores
- Pay bills on time and before the due dates with at least minimum payments requested on billing statements.
- Keep debt balances below 30% of the credit limits, e.g. if you have a $1,000 credit limit then keep the amount owed at $300 or less.
- Apply for and open new credit accounts and services only as needed.
- Know what is being reported, and request your credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion through annualcreditreport.com or call 877.322.8228. Free weekly credit reports are available by request, but expect to pay a small fee for each score requested. Special note: obtaining your own credit report directly from a credit reporting agency will not affect your credit score.
- Check credit reports for errors and make corrections; and be sure to remove outdated negative information.
What People Say About This Service
Julie Raises Her Credit Score
A certified LSS financial counselor assisted Julie with understanding the importance of credit, how it works, and guided her in taking steps to fix it! Her credit score went from 601 to 725 and she was able to buy her first house!
Freezing Your Credit
A credit freeze is the best defense to prevent fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name without you knowing it.
- Transunion: transunion.com/credit-freeze.
- Equifax: equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/.
- Experian: experian.com/freeze/center.html.
- Protect your child from identity theft: consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-protect-your-child-identity-theft.
Get Started Today
Our free and confidential services are available nationwide by phone or virtually. We also offer in-person appointments across Minnesota.
We have counselors who are fluent in Spanish and Hmong. In addition, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation is available as needed.