Protecting Your Credit Scores: Three Steps to Take

iStock_000008837234XSmallRight now, due to the current economic crisis, 30 million Americans have credit scores of 620 or lower. So if you’ve been having troubles, know that you aren’t alone.

While all of your payments are important, credit card use seems to have a greater impact on your credit scores. So here are a three ways to raise your scores – or keep them from falling unnecessarily.

If you’ve got good credit scores – 700 and above – a mistake like a late payment can cost you as much as 100 points.

But mistakes happen – a crisis in your life or mis-routed mail can cause you to overlook a payment, even if you’ve never been late in your life.

If that happens to you, contact your credit issuer immediately. Since you have a good history with them, they may be willing to make a “goodwill adjustment” and erase that one late payment from your credit history. Call first, and then send your request in writing.

If your credit is already in the basement, one more late payment isn’t going to do much additional damage, but every little bit counts, so if you’ve got a good record with this card, make the call.

If you’ve had trouble making payments in the past, but are now back on track, a credit card issuer might be willing to “re-age” your account – erasing previous delinquencies after you’ve made a year’s worth of on-time payments.

You may be carrying a ding on your credit history because of an old disputed account. You wouldn’t be the first one to refuse to pay a charge you felt was billed in error, or even fraudulently.

You can try reasoning with the creditor, but that may not be effective. Instead, file a dispute with each of the credit bureaus that report the account. File your dispute under the reason: “Not mine.”

Next, since the amount you charge in relation to your credit limit counts heavily in compiling your credit scores, read your credit report to see that your credit limit is being reported correctly. Contact your creditor and ask that they revise their report to reflect your true credit limit.

The better your credit scores the less interest you’ll pay on everything from a credit card to a car to a house, so it pays to protect and raise those scores no matter where you stand today. One exception: Once your score is 760 or higher you don’t need to raise it – only to protect it.

Author: Mike Clover

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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by as an informational service to the public. While our goal is to provide information that will help consumers to manage their credit and debt, this information should not be considered legal advice. Such advice must be specific to the various circumstances of each person's situation, and the general information provided on these pages should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.