Credit Report Review
A key component to gaining control of your finances is knowing exactly where you stand financially. You are entitled to a free credit report once per year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian. and TransUnion. (Because of COVID, the three bureaus are now offering free weekly online reports through the end of 2022.) We can help you obtain a copy of your credit report and understand it.
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 $1000 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. Credit reports are free once a year, 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.
Contact Us & Get Started
Our free and confidential services are available nationwide by phone or virtually. For in-person appointments view our office locations to find a location near you!
We have counselors who are fluent in English, Spanish and Hmong. Interpretation, Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), and TeleTYpe (TYY) services are available as needed.
Phone, Virtual or In-Person Appointment
Call 888.577.2227 to schedule a phone or virtual appointment at a time convenient for you. Or set up an in-person appointment at one of our Minnesota or Wisconsin locations.
Please note: to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we are currently offering phone, virtual and online appointments only. We will reintroduce in-person appointments at a later date.
Get all your support by email.
To get started:
- Create your financial profile online any time of day with an email address and a password.
- Next, share your financial goal(s) and any other information you believe would assist us in understanding your financial circumstances.
- Then provide the amount of your household take-home income, balances and payment amount for credit card and unsecured debts, and monthly expenses. Click Finish to submit your information. Once submitted, your financial profile cannot be changed or updated.
- Finally, a counselor will email you within two to three business days to provide options and work with you to determine next steps to reach your goal(s).
If you are seeking guidance for student loan debt or housing issues, please call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule a phone appointment.
Please note: we do not provide retirement planning services or investment advice.
What do I need for counseling?
In order for your financial counseling session to be most productive, it is helpful to have the following information available:
- Your monthly income
- Typical monthly expenses
- Statements from your creditors.
- Any other information you believe would be helpful in understanding your financial situation.
Don't have everything? Don't worry. Call us and we help guide you through the process.
What Makes Up a Credit Score?
Knowing and understanding you credit score can help you learn where you stand financially! Learn what makes up a credit score and ways to maintain or improve your credit score.
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.