Good credit is key to financial health (pt 2) | Birmingham alabama

f you have a blemished credit record, there are steps you can take to rebuild it.

» Always pay your creditors on time — a positive payment history is one of the most important factors that lenders consider when you apply for a loan.
» Apply for department store or gasoline credit cards which tend to have lower credit limits. You can also take out a secured credit card by depositing money with an issuing bank.
» You might need professional counseling to help you set a budget, get back on your feet financially and establish a good credit record. For help, talk to your banker or call the Consumer Credit Counseling Service at 800-388-2227.
» Generally, negative credit information stays on your credit report for seven years. (If it hasn’t been removed after seven years, ask the credit reporting agency to do so.) If you have filed for personal bankruptcy, that fact stays on your report for ten years.

Credit bureaus get information from creditors such as banks, credit card issuers and auto finance companies. They also get information from public records such as property or court records.

That’s why it is important that consumers should review their credit report annually to look for inaccuracies, fraud or mistaken identities. Errors should be reported directly to the credit reporting agency and can usually be reported quite easily by viewing your credit report online:

» Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 www.equifax.com
» Experian: 1-800-397-3742 www.experian.com
» TransUnion: 1-800-888-4213 www.transunion.com

If an error is found, the credit reporting agency must investigate and respond within 30 days.

Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. The best way to get your free annual credit report from all three agencies is by using the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authorized website at www.annualcreditreport.com. (Be careful: there are several imposter websites with similar web addresses that could charge you a fee.) You can also call 1-877-322-8228 or write to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

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