Improve your credit score

July 26, 2009 5:50:31 AM PDT
Due to the ailing economy, lenders have tightened credit requirements for prospective homeowners. So, now is the time to check your credit report and take action to improve your score. The Map Financial Group CFO, Sam Rosenberg, joined us with tips. 1.) Get your credit report from the three bureaus which can provide your FICO score for a monthly fee. You can use also Web sites to get your credit report free. One of the recommended sites is It's the only free Web site that was set up by the three major credit report companies. This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

a. Each person is entitled to a free credit report from these agencies once a year.

b. More frequent monitoring can be purchased from these bureaus.

i. Many banks offer this service as well.

2.) PAY BILLS ON TIME. In addition, maintain a 20% ratio of outstanding balance and credit line.

3.) Keep a credit card open as opposed to closing it. Closing a credit card adversely affects your score. If the consumer has access to higher levels of credit, the score is higher.

4.) Remember that negative info on your report will last for several years, hence the importance of paying bills on time.

a. The highest credit score is 850. 720 - 850 is considered good credit.

5.) Check your credit report at least once per year.

6.) Watch out for ID theft!

a. Many people only contact their banks or credit card companies after they detect fraud.

i. Consumers should also notify the reporting agency to place an alert on your credit report.

ii. FICO has an excellent pamphlet providing details on steps that should be taken.

7.) Take a careful approach when purchasing items. Credit bureaus recently began looking at consumers spending habits.

a. For example, if you were shopping at high end retailers such as Saks and are now shopping at Target, the credit bureaus will take note and will reduce your credit score.

8.) Consumers should consider accessing credit from the smaller community and regional banks due to their ability to lend.

a. Small banks are sitting on a great deal of deposits

9.) Keep balances low on credit cards and other "revolving credit" as high outstanding debt can affect a credit score.

10.) Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years.

For more information, visit for Map Financial Global.