Taking the Fear Out of Credit Reports
Q. I didn't pay my parking tickets when I was in college. Is this going to show up in my credit report?
A. It's possible the sins of young adulthood will show up on your credit report, but there's only one way to find out. You can get a free copy of your report once a year. Unless there was a parking ticket amnesty program in your college city, the fines might have been turned over to a collection agency. If so, you might see those ghosts of an indigent past in black and white. Pay them, and then inform the credit company that you have done so.
Q. Okay, so I got into some financial trouble and now my credit score has tanked. What should I do?
A. Unfortunately, you aren't alone. That's why there are lenders out there who get creative with mortgages, and can find you one even with your bad credit. Of course, they aren't handing these mortgages out for free — they will cost you more than if you had good credit. The first thing to do is to clean up your debts. And be honest with your lender; don't lie about your credit because he will find out anyway and you'll waste both your time.
Q. I'm so upset I can hardly talk. I got my credit report and it says I have an account at a bank I stopped using long ago. I closed that account but here it is showing up again, and I think it's hurting my credit score. What should I do?
A. Call the bank and make sure they have closed the account. Banks are sometimes reluctant to do that and the account can hang around unbeknownst to you. Then dispute your credit report with the reporting agency so they can track down the creditor to see what's up. You should see the item disappear from your report in about 30 days. If not, contact the credit agency.
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