Written by Carissa Abazia

Bottom line: your credit score matters. A good score is critical for affordable mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.  Your credit score can also play an over-sized role in determining how much you’re going to pay monthly for premiums and services such as insurance, cell phone, rent and utilities.

The first step is to find out what your credit score is and dispute inaccuracies:

Review Your Credit Report On All Three Bureaus

A credit score is calculated using information from your credit report. There are three main credit bureaus that can generate your credit report, and you should review your information on all of them regularly to ensure that there is no incorrect information.

You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit-reporting companies. Order online from AnnualCreditReport.com the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228.

Dispute Inaccurate Information

If you find inaccurate information, you should dispute that information immediately. The easiest way is to dispute the information online.

I highly recommend that you dispute online and in writing. If you do not like the outcome of the dispute, a paper trail will be very helpful for the dispute. And written letters, sent by certified mail, are much more effective. The website and mailing address for each credit-reporting agency below.


You can dispute with TransUnion here

You can call them at 1-800-916-8800

You can dispute in writing at this address:

TrasnUnion, LLC Consumer Dispute Center, PO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022


You can dispute online with Equifax here

You can dispute in writing at this address:

Equifax Information Services, LLC, PO Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374

Equifax does not provide a telephone number on their website. They tell you to refer to the telephone number provided on your credit report.


You can dispute online with Experian here

You can dispute in writing at this address:

Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center, PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

Experian has a customer service phone number, which is 1-866-200-6020

If you are not able to reach a satisfactory conclusion directly with the bureaus, consider complaining to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Just make sure you keep a paper trail of your issue, and submit all of that when you complain. The CFPB will reach out to the bureau on your behalf, which can help expedite a resolution.

Here are four simple steps you can take to maximize your scores:

1. MAKE ALL PAYMENTS ON TIME.  The most important variable in almost every scoring model is your payment history. It is critical to ensure that you make on-time payments, especially for active accounts. Every time another live account becomes delinquent, significant damage is done to your score. Usually the easiest way to avoid late payments is by setting up auto pay. A history of late payments makes lenders question whether you’ll make future payments on time.  A payment that is late by 30 days or more is often reported to the credit bureaus.

2. OLDEST CREDIT LINE.  The age of your oldest credit line account shows lenders how much experience you have handling credit, hinting at your overall reliability.  If you open an account, try not close it.

3. CREDIT USED.  Utilization is a simple calculation: it measures the percentage of your available credit that you are using. Lenders look for signs of responsible credit usage, and the better you are at living within your means, the better it is for your score.  If you are using more of your credit, it may be difficult for you to get additional credit with a good interest rate.  For example, if you have a $10,000 credit limit on your credit card and have a statement balance of $2,000 you would have 20% utilization. There is no perfect number, and the lower your utilization the better (i.e. people with the best credit scores have utilization below 10%). Credit bureaus do not receive verified income; therefore, utilization is used as a proxy, and high utilization signals excessive borrowing. Under 10% is the goal, but be sure to keep your credit card balances under 29% of your available credit line at all times.

4. NEW ACCOUNTS.  From a lender’s POV, if you open too many cards in a short window of time, it could point to credit problems.  Try to limit the number of credit cards you have and if possible, wait a few years between opening new accounts.

And lastly…

Use Common Sense And Focus On Financial Health

Credit scores are simply algorithms that attempt to predict whether or not you will repay your obligations in the future. However, your financial health should always be more important than your credit score. Never borrow money and pay interest just to boost your score. Never take out a loan just to boost your score. By making payments on time and keeping your utilization low, you can have an excellent score. If you feel like you are making a bad financial decision in order to boost your score, you are likely making a bad decision.

If you don’t have established credit but want to take the first step to building credit, please feel free to reach out to me.


Thanks for reading!

Carissa Abazia