If you’re looking to improve your current financial situation or prepare to get the best mortgage in Atlanta, the Equifax Finance blog offers some tips for getting your credit report in order in the recent article, “Four Steps to Cleaning Up Your Credit Report.”
First, pull a copy of your credit report. You have to know where you stand so you know where to go. You can get a free copy of your credit report three times per year (once a year from each of the three major national credit reporting agencies). You can also pay an additional small fee to get your credit score from each agency. The article recommends carefully combing through your credit report to check for any errors, which could either be a sign of identity theft or mean that a credit company inaccurately reported your payment information. Make sure that your accounts are in good standing. Get your minimums on each account paid.
Step two is to take care of any inaccuracies or outdated information. You can file a dispute online or by mail with the credit reporting agency with which you found the error. The agency must investigate the issue within 45 days and notify you of the results of their investigation. Anytime you communicate with a credit reporting agency or lender about a mistake, take detailed notes including the names of people with whom you speak and the dates of your conversations. You do not have to do this with every credit reporting agency; if one agency finds an error, it is their responsibility to notify the other two agencies.
Get your paperwork in order. If it’s been a while since you went through your financial records, pull out all of your paperwork and sort it by category (credit card statements, mortgage payments, insurance, tax paperwork, medical paperwork, etc.). Create folders for each category and shred any paperwork that you no longer need to keep. You can also scan and save all of your paperwork onto your computer; just remember to back it up to an external drive.
Pay your bills. Create a budget to help you start paying down debt now. Keep a handle on your finances by designating a day each month to review and re-evaluate where you stand with each of your lenders.
Read the full article on the Equifax Finance blog, where you can find lots of credit and personal finance advice, including topics like taxes, insurance, real estate, savings, retirement and more.